A not-so-happy holiday week
The pleasant voice you normally hear when you call our office belongs to Cheri Bentz. Cheri’s a nice person, and you can make her day on Friday by not calling to tell us you got a Marion County Record instead of your normal Hillsboro Star-Journal or Peabody Gazette-Bulletin.
As we usually do in holiday weeks, we’re printing this week’s papers early, as a special combined edition with something extra thrown in: another of our popular Explore sections, highlighting a few of the entertaining things you and out-of-town visitors can do in our county over the next month or so.
There’s an old adage (as if there were such things as new adages) in the newspaper business that holiday editions need to have happy, uplifting news on the front page.
We tried our best in that regard. One of the things you’ll probably see in later issues is a very nice picture Mindy Kepfield took of a man and a dog fishing together.
Somehow, it just didn’t seem appropriate in a week in which dozens were searching for a missing fisherman and in which a man was mauled within an inch of his life by a dog.
News has a habit of turning bad just when you want it to turn good, and we’ll readily admit that we struggled in this short week, printing two days early so everyone could get his or her paper before the holiday, to find more uplifting things. You’ll see a few inside, and a lot in Explore. But Page 1 isn’t always what we want it to be. It’s what news dictates it must be.
All we can hope is that bad news turns into good because of how people deal with it. A fisherman missing is bad news. But dozens volunteering to search for him is better news. An underage driver injured while not wearing a helmet on an ATV is bad news. The lesson that could be learned by other young people is better news.
Harvest is both good news and bad. Depending on your political bent, questions about a petition challenging a wind farm could go either way. Such are the fickle winds of fate for both farming and wind farming.
Which fetches our attention back to dogs. Dogs aren’t inherently evil, even quick-tempered ones trained to fight, though we wonder why anyone would want such an animal as a pet. They can be dangerous, as letter carriers who seem determined to convert everyone to rural mailboxes might attest. But most of the time, it’s we humans — not our dogs — who are responsible.
It apparently wasn’t a factor in this case, but why is it that some people feel it’s their right to allow dogs to roam free when laws specify otherwise? Why do some people stake big dogs on short leashes that easily tangle and prevent the dog from reaching its water dish, especially in 100-degree weather? What can we, as people who want to be friendly neighbors not constantly complaining or calling police, do about such things?
A couple of other stories dictated by developments this week deal with piles of debris or disused items littering yards. Sometimes the litter is temporary and most of us can put up with it. Sometimes it’s not, and what do we do then if we don’t want to get a reputation for being a nosey fussbudget?
It’s easy to say that we should expect everyone to behave toward others the way they themselves would want others to behave toward them. But the golden rule too often seems to require turning the other cheek.
Ultimately, this is why we have government — to do the things that we ourselves can’t or won’t. It’s also why government doesn’t always have the best of reputations with people, just as newspapers sometime get tarred with the stick of being too negative simply because negative news happens.
When thinking of government, or newspapers, or even neighbors, sometimes it helps to put a human face on whoever or whatever you’re tempted to complain about.
And that brings us back to Cheri and those of us sitting at work late on a Sunday night to make sure you get your paper before the holiday this week. Be gentle. We’re humans, too. We’re just as hopeful to find positive news as you are — maybe more so.
Sorry. No jokes, no jabs this week. What the heck. Maybe that’s worth celebrating, with or without fireworks.
— ERIC MEYER