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0706 PD: If you can't say something nice

Baxter Black Published on 07 August 2006

Sometimes I think I live in a different country than the ones I read about in the newspapers or hear on the radio and television.

For instance, I was in Sacramento recently. It is not the same California you read about in the letters to the editor in the San Francisco Chronicle or see on Entertainment Tonight! California is a state (a small country, really) that believes in the work ethic and not in fairy tales. It is profoundly patriotic, enormously productive and, regardless of their political leanings, agree that Hollywood hype and San Francisco politics are bizarre.

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I lived in Colorado many years. It is still just as beautiful and breathtaking, and still draws tourists and refugees from Texas and California as it always has. Although the Front Range (Ft. Collins in the north to Pueblo in the south), now controls the state legislature, it is the oil business and timber industry in the west and the feedlots, ranching and farming communities in the plains of eastern Colorado, that are the bulwarks of economic stability. People still get up every day and harvest resources, not just shuffle paper.

Tragedy in Tennessee, Texas and Louisiana, according to the breaking news right after this message.” The sky is falling, people are helpless, the government is somehow at fault and the only thing that can save us is…right after this message. Meanwhile, outside the view of the news coverage, volunteers by the thousands have been helping these New Orleans natives to rebuild.

Individual Texas ranchers who’ve lost cattle and feed have declined government aid…out of pride. Did you hear that on the news? Of course not. Magazines go on running exposés of celebrity lives. They create villains, damsels in distress, drug-addled anti-heroes, evil CEOs, pitiful creatures…but no heroes…good doesn’t sell.

Television shows posing as concerned good Samaritans exploit grotesque crimes, casting baseless aspirations on anyone who tracks through their slime. And yet America goes on beneath the radar, raising our children, going to church, volunteering at the hospice, serving as Rotarians, paying our taxes and hoping that our nation’s leaders will make America proud in their dealing with others and each other.

I read a book by a famous author about Wyoming. It painted Wyoming residents with an ugly brush. I read story after demeaning story. I asked myself, ‘Has she never been there?’ Then I realized she had a home there but chose the path to ridicule.

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If we all paid heed to the old admonition, “If you can’t say something nice, bite your tongue,” even one day a week, the antacid business would suffer a severe setback. PD

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