I do not, as a rule, write editorials. In general I don’t think my opinion on this or that topic is of particular interest to our readers. I’m more interested in what you have to …
I do not, as a rule, write editorials. In general I don’t think my opinion on this or that topic is of particular interest to our readers. I’m more interested in what you have to say.
But this week, I feel I need to respond to a particular reader who writes that he has “grown weary of articles in the Local that assume a progressive consensus in our neighborhood.”
He has a point. He is also not the first person to make it, as I have gotten more than a few anonymous complaints about the “progressive” bent of several articles that have shown up in the pages of this newspaper.
He is, however, the first one brave enough to “raise his head above the parapet,” as he puts it, and put his name on a letter that runs on our page. And for that I thank him. I want everyone who lives in our community to feel that this paper belongs to them, whatever their politics may be.
We are lucky to have living among us a particularly large number of accomplished individuals who have gone out into the world to lead impressive and effective lives. This is one of our great strengths, and these people are worth reading about.
It is also true that the communities of Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy skew to the political left. You don’t have to count votes to see that.
This poses a particular challenge for me, the editor of this community’s newspaper, because a good number of us have views that lean more to the political right. And it’s my job to make sure they don’t feel crowded out.
I had thought we could balance our coverage by including more voices, and write more stories about people who hold a conservative point of view.
But after about nine months on the job, I have found that’s not such an easy task. It turns out that many people who feel their views are out of step with those of their neighbors are reluctant to say so in public.
I understand that. Still, I wish it weren’t so.
I grew up in a tiny little historic village in Northwest Virginia, about an hour’s drive from Washington, DC. Many of the people who lived there worked in that city, pursuing jobs and agendas that were distinctly political.
My English mother was a socialist Democrat who thought nobody should have to pay for higher education and that universal healthcare was an obvious good. My father, raised by conservative Lutherans from the Midwest, was a staunch Republican who voted for Barry Goldwater and thought that government should pretty much always get out of the way.
They were also convivial people who enjoyed a good conversation, so their door was always open. More often than not, one of our politically-active neighbors was sitting around our dinner table.
This produced many lively debates, with both sides fiercely defending their point. Sometimes someone changed their mind, but usually not.
Still, when it was time to snuff out the candles and go home, no one took any hard feelings with them. We were friends and neighbors, after all. We all understood that collectively, our many differing points of view is what made our neighborhood such an interesting place to live.
So consider this a direct invitation to any and all of you who may be feeling that your views aren’t welcome, or respected, in the pages of this newspaper. Let us know who you are, what you care about, and why. Let's listen to one another, sharpen our thinking, and possibly even change our minds.
Let’s make it, as our reader suggests, a “neighborly cup of coffee and a conversation.”