I type this as someone who goes to a lot of meetings, generally government meetings. (I type this as someone who has no complaints about the meeting-attendance part of his job.)
I’d always assumed it was the part of the job that worked down in the fundamentals of being a newspaper guy, serving the community and all that. You, the reader, gets home, done with work for the day, and you don’t want to turn around and run back out the door and listen to a group hash about on the nuance and details of X or Y. You’ll just read about it in the paper next week.
I go, and I write it up. (And, truly, honored to be that guy, honored by the public trust. Thank you.)
And it has to be a very obscure meeting, one of those ones that only the really government nerds would even be aware of, for me to be the only observer. I note a trend on these other attendees.
The other attendees, with only the rarest exception, are older than me. (I’m 65 in a few weeks and will be working for awhile yet.) Well of course that’s how it goes, and has gone since, I suspect, government meetings were held: Older people in the gallery, often as not post-retirement.
And good. I fully anticipate when my times comes I’ll be one of those ones who show up and attend the meeting, perhaps by then out of habit as much as anything, see what’s going on. But the things I’m struck by, and I typed this as a guy who goes to meetings across different communities, across two counties: Some of y’all are really mad.
I get it, it’s kind of obvious, having observed this now over some time and at some length: Some of y’all are just plain happiest when you’re unhappy.
It’s a shame, but there it is.
Oh I know, that sounds kind of flip, but I’m not kidding: Some people are happiest when they’re mad.
And, while I’m pointing this out: Some people are so mad (are so happy) because they’re so fearful. Fearful, as in “The (something) is coming to take our (something).” And you, one of the swarm of angry people, are scared about the (something) coming to take your (something) away and it makes you mad to even contemplate it.
Now don’t get me wrong. Some people show up at these meetings mad and they have a reason to be mad. This thing happened that thing happened then the other thing happened and now their cat’s dead or something and they want whatever agency they’re before to do something about it. That’s a fair request, it’s the reason we have these agencies after all, so yeah, glad they went there to get it worked out.
And – again, experience talking here – time and again there’s another side to the story and once both sides are heard people calm down (as a rule here, as a rule) and some compromise or understanding is reached. This is what reasonable people do, hear things out and work toward a compromise.
But not the ones who are so joyfully mad. First, they’re not there to hear what anyone else has to say: Being mad is too much fun to let go of, and that thing (those things) you fear are too ominous to allow anything but your rage dictate the conversation.
And I don’t get it. Maybe it’s because I’m fairly satisfied with life, maybe it’s because I’m someone bemused by the great tragedy of the moment being greater than all the other great tragedies before until the next great tragedy comes along (as has been for centuries of the human condition).
Tonight I will sleep in a warm dry place. I will do so with a reasonably full belly (but I could always get some more food out and jump right past “reasonably”). If there’s an accident I have every expectation of very competent medical care, and if the accident was brought about by lawlessness I fully expect a legal system to act appropriately. We can all, with very rare exception, expect this.
These things, granted, might not be done the way I would have done them, but then I’ve never been to medical school or had to prosecute a crime. I, yeah, just show up and write about it.
“Count your blessings,” the people say, and they’re right. We’ve got a pretty good world, not perfect, but pretty darn good. Let’s take a minute, before we get all fired up about the slight of the moment, and recall that we have blessings to count.
And calm down.