Friday, July 01, 2022

We need to be nice to one another

| June 21, 2022 1:00 AM

Here are some things I thought about during a morning Lakeview Park stroll with Man's Best Friend Tippy a few days ago:

The fellow dogsters who meet regularly at the boat dock are among the most fraternal, humorous and thoughtful neighbors I've ever known. But I have reason to suspect they don't share my political beliefs. Never in an extra-long life has this been troublesome. But today it definitely is.

"Politics," someone once coined, "makes strange bedfellows" — meaning people who have little in common can come together over shared political views. Turned on its head, it means people with opposing political beliefs can be buddies if they value friendship over ideology.

"So," I say to myself, "as the Eagles rock band recorded — just Get Over It!"

Waiting in the patient room on a recent morning at Advanced Dermatology in Spokane for surgeon (and frequent Sandpoint visitor) Joel Sears to appear with results from fiendish carvings on my forehead, a fellow bandaged guest came in, sat down, smiled, and started talking. "Damn," I thought, "a talker — so much for my book." Annoyed, I decided, nonetheless, to be nice. Well, irritation quickly became admiration. And not just because the talkative intruder and I were equally distraught about our country's ugly cultural divisions since the 2016 election and subsequent violent attack in the nation's capitol.

Greg Douglas was (is) 73, a jolly retired Spokane school teacher, wed 45 years and still in love. He was a 21-year-old white guy from Spokane when he led a combat patrol in Vietnam. His squad were 17/18-year-old rural black kids from the deep south. Some, he said, remain his pals to this day. That spoke volumes about this guy. Greg's insides are a disaster, demanding regular medical treatment because of constant exposure to agent orange and napalm in Nam. Yet I've seldom met a man so grateful, so upbeat, so optimistic and so in love with life. What a great guy with whom to start a day! Yet no better than Bonnie, Frank, Ed, Pete or Tom, dogsters who gather at the Lakeview Park boat dock every morning.

What if I had decided not to hang out with and enjoy the camaraderie of these congenial fellow Sandpointians because some might disagree with me about the seriousness of today's scary anti-democracy drift? And what if I had just mumbled hi and kept reading my book when citizen role model Greg Douglas of Spokane sat down and said hello?

Well, for one thing, I wouldn't feel as happy as I do during this walk in the park with Man's Best Friend Tippy. Or about life itself. We need to be nice.



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