Imagine A City . . .

LA MESA -- Imagine a world, said someone, in which we all treated one another a little less horribly. Said in all seriousness, it made me think, yes, what if we did.  This wasn’t someone wishing we people would never argue or disagree or even point out things we didn’t like about each other.  The words put the emphasis on something seemingly pretty simple. “If we all treated each other a little less horribly.”  It seems like a fairly easy thing to do.  A tragically low bar of expectation, actually.   “A little less horribly.”  Not more kind.  Not courteously.  Not respectfully.  Just less horribly.

Is it easier to be horrible or "merely" mean in 2014 than it was in, say, 1984?  I don’t think being it is any  easier.  What is easier is inflicting it, sharing the vitriol or anger more quickly and often anonymously.  Today we have the impersonal shield of a computer screen or the even smaller screen of a smart phone to hide behind.  Add to that the ability to make up a name or borrow one, well then who couldn't  be brave and bold when there is no one to face but one’s self. (Of course there's the whole looking at yourself into the mirror thing, but that’s another topic all together.)

I wonder if instead of writing something snarky or mean or insensitive, I wonder if we had to sit at Cosmos or Starbucks or stand in front of La Torta or Por Favor and actually face the person we disagreed with,  would that make the little asides and accusations harder to deliver?  I think they ought to be harder,because it takes more courage to stand up for what you believe in when you have to look into someone’s face to do it.   I hope we have not reached a place in our discourse where we can’t have a reasonable discussion about things we disagree over without mudslinging and name calling and dragging out every minor personal affront that ever occurred.

I've said before that I wish we could find a way to focus on the fact that we all are heading in the same direction: We are all La Mesans.  I think it’s even more important as a big election season confronts us that we remember that. We have serious problems facing us, but when we get caught up in personality, in the pettiest of the petty, how will we be able to solve anything?   I want to know how the candidates see the future and how they aim to get there.  Without trashing their opponent or slyly sending out underlings to do the trashing,  I want my candidate to tell me what he or she stands for and to tell me how they want to move the City of La Mesa forward.  That’s what I want to know.  And I’m pretty sure there are a bunch of people who feel the same. 

Imagine a world, or even a city, in which we all treat one another a little less horribly… That's all, just a little less horribly.


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Tags: Chris Shea, La Mesa Today, La Mesa news, La Mesa newspaper, On La Mesa


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Comment by Batman on April 8, 2014 at 12:24pm

"Dr. Mark for Mayor" is a fantastic idea, but the timing is wrong. Madrid says he's retiring after this term and at his age it's likely the truth. If you can just tolerate Art until 2018 the seat will be open and Dr. A will be THE most qualified man on the ticket without any doubt. I he runs now he will likely be humiliated by Madrid as every other challenger has over the last 24 years, and he will be out of his council seat. I've been following La Mesa politics since the mid 1970s. There are no bad people on our city council right now, you folks don't know how good you have it. Art Madrid's problem is strictly personality, you guys just don't know how to deal with him.

And in the spirit of kindness and respect I propose, as the LM Today group, we send a letter of appreciation to the Koch Brothers expressing our gratitude for all their hard work in providing valuable commodities for our society such as petroleum. After all, everyone should be treated with respect, right?

Comment by Michael Cargill on April 7, 2014 at 8:50pm

Ah hem, just another climate denier.

Comment by Batman on April 6, 2014 at 10:14pm

Mr. Wood, it is impossible for our city or any other city to fund the pensions, that was the sinister plan all along. If the city doesn't have the money to repave on a schedule anymore where are they getting the money to do all this street narrowing? If developers were allowed to build out they would be less eager to build up. Why would we even consider wasting a single dime dealing with the unproven global warming theory? The federal government is already shoveling money into local governments at warp speed at it doesn't seem to be solving anything.

I agree completely. Lets get these issues ironed out first and then deal with personality problems.

Comment by knikki royster on April 6, 2014 at 8:38pm
Having sat through the last couple of council meetings I've heard Art Madrid make snarky comments to and about council members. Apparently he needs to read your article...
Comment by Kristine Christensen Alessio on April 6, 2014 at 8:25pm

Don, with all due respect, our sitting Mayor went after me.  I find his characterization of me as a "virus" to be just a tad offensive.  I have never said things about him other than  to call him out when he is flatly rude.  It's wrong and highly inappropriate for a mayor to behave in such a manner toward his colleagues which he claims to want unity with.  Until he apologizes to me and my council colleagues for his abusive and insulting comments, which he has lobbed at all of us on the council as well as the citizens he is supposed to represent, you can expect me to defend myself, my colleagues, my constituents and the integrity of my office.  For those who view this as political tit-for-tat, I am sorry you feel that way.  There are ideals in principles that we should all stand up for.  Integrity and decency are two of those.

Comment by Michael Cargill on April 6, 2014 at 4:32pm

Who is Fred Nagle? Why does Batman hate him so much?

Comment by Lisa Moore on April 6, 2014 at 2:34pm

Chris Shea, that was well said and hit it right on the spot!  As much as I totally agree 100% with you, the nature of some of those in our lovely city as well as some of those running it will make it a challenge.  I hope I am totally wrong :-)  I love La Mesa, chose to live here 40 yrs. ago, built a home, ran a business in the village, served the community for the last 36 yrs through my service club so really have a stake in our fair city. As you said let's have a civil political season so we can move the City of La Mesa forward.


Comment by Don Wood on April 6, 2014 at 2:33pm

Good essay. Too bad one of the first comments you got was a sitting city council member going after our mayor. That is about what I've come to respect out of several city council members. Let's see if the rest of them get the message, or if they just keep bashing away at each other. I agree that this election should be about candidates visions and plans for the city, and how they propose to realize those plans.  Enough with the he said/she said arguments and anonymous email hits. I want to know how the candidate plan to fund city employee pension deficits, keep our roads paved and will enforce the city plan we worked years on, by enforcing current city height limits, instead of shilling for the Park Station developers. What does each candidate have in mind for a city climate action plan?  How does each candidate plan to solicit federal and state grant money to help meet the city's future needs?  These are the key issues we should be discussing, not how much council members disrespect each other.

Comment by David B. Givens on April 6, 2014 at 10:01am

Very well said . . .

Comment by Gene Carpenter on April 6, 2014 at 9:28am
“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”

– Albert Einstein

Let's face it, there are those among us that just can't manage themselves with the "Ease to Express" that social media now gives us. A lot of our oldsters don't have the character to behave in a way that sets an appropriate example. Never too late to fix that though. Great essay, thank you Chris!

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