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The Daily Planet's Opinion: August 2016
Thursday, 04 August 2016 11:08

District elections for Asheville?

Let’s put idea to a referendum


We think that former state Sen. Tom Apodaca’s proposal to impose district elections on Asheville for its City Council seats (but keeping the mayor’s post at-large) may have some merit.

While joining most of the Asheville community in rejoicing that Apodaca’s legislation recently was defeated in the state House of Representatives, we do so more from opposition to the process he used, rather than on the merits of the idea. 

Apodaca’s plan dividing the city into six districts (of his design) passed the Senate, but surprisingly (to some) was shot down in the House, where a coalition of Democrats and Republicans objected mainly on procedural grounds that the controversial local bill should not have been submitted in the short session. Notably, some Republicans objected to the legislature’s heavy-handedness and felt they needed to put a stop to it, fearing that it could also happen in their communities.

Council members tend to come from north and west Asheville, while residents of the fast-growing south-side, in particular, complain of under-representation.

To that end, we like Mayor Esther Manheimer’s suggestion that a good solution on the district idea is to have it put before the voters as a ballot question.


 
The Candid Conservative Confessions of a jerkist!
Thursday, 04 August 2016 10:52
By CARL MUMPOWER
Special to the Daily Planet

“Hatred, in the course of time, kills the unhappy wretch who delights in nursing it in his bosom.”
—  Casanova

 

The Problem

recently had a sharable adventure. It was a reminder that in a darkening world, shady moments are inevitable.   

While making the rounds with my potty breaking birddog, I ran into a fellow office building tenant.  As is customary among civilized folk, I greeted that individual.  By some measures, that was a mistake.

It seems the recipient believes I am evil, bad and a bunch of other things I couldn’t decipher. If words could kill, you wouldn’t be reading this.  

The malice was not reciprocal – and I comfortably yielded the field to the individual’s fuzzy fury. My only remark of consequence was the suggestion the person might want to “rethink that anger because it will eat you up.” I left the engagement with one lingering conclusion – unhappy people have unhappy ways.

As you may have noted in your own experience, our world has a lot of unhappy people. Here’s how to deal with them.

 

Writing your own script

This is not the first time this individual downloaded in my direction. My response has been consistent – be direct, be polite and be me. The temptation to return the favor has not been a factor. That’s because doing so energizes antagonists with our energy and puts them in charge of our script.

Hating people isn’t smart. It turns life into a silly game of Cowboys and Indians, where everyone is either a good guy or bad guy. It’s not that simple – and hate has a way of blinding us to deeper truths as it makes us like those we hate. Reject ideas and actions – sure – hate people, nope.

Anger is a stronger bond than love – not a better bond, just a tougher bond. It creates an exchange of energy that gives whoever we hate access to our soul. Why would we want to be bonded to an antagonist?  

“I treat other people like they treat me” is an often-recited social game plan. That’s just another way of putting others in charge of our roadmap.  

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” works better. Like most of the Bible’s encouragements, doing so keeps us in charge of our deal and the other guys in charge of theirs.  

 

That darn nagging Bible

It is the exceptional person of faith who does not occasionally pocket their moral compass. Human beings are nothing else if not selfish and willful. Those tendencies spiral out of control when our compass falls through the hole it wears a hole in our pocket.

Though in today’s “savvy” society it’s popular to mock or ignore the Bible, an opposite approach may be in our best interests. To the extent this sourcebook was our world’s Jell-O mold, we can benefit from its wisdom.

One such pearl is the encouragement that we cast off the sin versus the sinner. If you disagree with someone, with few exceptions the Bible tells you to reject their actions, not them. If most of us practiced that one simple instruction, earth would be a whole lot nicer place.

The Bible goes a step further in telling us of all the stuff therein, nothing is more important than the concept of love. We are encouraged to love God, love our neighbor, love God’s son, and, yes, love ourselves. Though the latter seems to be Job One in today’s America, there is a decided difference in self-worship and self-love.

One of the biggest differences has to do with the other end of the Christian equation – accountability.  The furry part of faith doesn’t work without a matching measure of responsibility.

Our responsibilities in conflict include working harder to hold up our end than on fixing someone else’s; listening; resisting the temptation of attacking those with whom we disagree; and recognizing the difference in a non-productive beatdown and a constructive effort to learn from one another.

One of the big things Christianity teaches is to not be greedy. We are encouraged to remember that we are not in charge of how things turn out or what other folks do. Our job is more or less simple – to face the game of life with maturity, effort and good sense no matter how lousy the play.

 

What we control and don’t

On another recent day, I took another lunch with the aforementioned pet – Pepper – at our usual picnic spot.

We sat for the better part of 20 minutes, inhaling the fumes and noise from a gentleman parked in air-conditioned comfort in the lot behind us. On exit, he took the time to courteously bring an important point to my attention, “Excuse me; I believe your dog is being repeatedly stung by wasps.” He seemed almost deflated following my return that, “Those are June Bugs” – Phyllophaga for the bugologists among us – and that she was “holding her own.” I could be wrong, but his demeanor suggested a gentleman with a proclivity for the great game “Gotcha!” to which our society seems currently addicted.

Have you noticed how everyone wants to run everything but their own lives? Road rage warriors, the lopsided Black Lives Matter movement, liberal politicians obsessed with regulating everything that moves, and gun control freaks hiding behind armed security teams are all examples of the trend.

It is a great irony that in a culture increasingly indifferent to any kind of meaningful accountability, catching our fellow man in day-to-day faux pas has become the de rigueur de jour. I got you has become a distraction from the deeper responsibility of I got me.

Part of my effort to stay in charge of me is to skip the temptations of being a racist, sexist, socialist, elitist or any other form of stupid. I do so by allowing myself the straight-up right to be a “jerkist.” For the same reason I step around regurgitated beer on an Asheville sidewalk, I’m good with not caring for the jerk things that some people chose to do.

I find conservatism and jerkism to be highly complementary. To the extent conservatives rely on the root word “conserve” – which means “to use or manage wisely; preserve; save” – both missions recognize the importance of “hating the sin, not the sinner.”

 

Tools for Success

Keeping your head intact in a confusing and hurtful world is never easy. The more you can focus on our own actions over those of others, the better the chance for a soft landing on hard ground.

Here’s a simple cue for measuring your success. If you’re angry, you’re probably focused on something you can’t control – the world around you – and busy neglecting what you can control – the world within you.

Remember, you can’t help that people will sometimes hurt your feelings. That’s life – but you remain in charge of whether that occurrence takes ownership of your head and actions.

If your mission is to leave the world a better place, think local – real local – and concentrate on making your piece of the puzzle a good one. While you’re at it, resist the tempting tickle of personal insults – the sanctuary of immaturity.

Two ways to stay constructively focused involve your most powerful tools of influence – your love and example. Caring about your fellow man – even when that caring is unearned, unrewarded and unappreciated – has the same effect on you as a lifejacket to a man overboard.

When you wake up tomorrow morning, take a quick review of your core values. Then spend the day being true to them. If you’re walking your dog at lunch and have your birth status questioned, consider it a practice opportunity.

Love is an offensive action – not in the sense of being hateful – but as a means to putting your destiny in your hands. Any noodle head can attack, curse, or hate. Remaining self-directed and positively motivated is a much more sophisticated skill set that is difficult to defend against.

Just ask Gandhi’s opposition….

Thanks for spending a few minutes with a candid conservative. 

Carl Mumpower is a psychologist and former elected official. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


 



 


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