Nothing in life is easy.
But nothing is more difficult than trying to please everyone.
Bill Cosby famously said, “I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”
Most of our lives are spent trying to decide which criticisms to listen to.
That was the case for some of our local city workers this week when they were removing Cottonwood seedlings from the city lake. When the lake was dry, the cottonwood trees had great success multiplying in the muddy lakebed. After getting not one, but two pieces of equipment caught in the mud while trying to remove the young trees, the effort was called off.
Now that the lake has filled back up, the workers used boats, waders and simply swam while removing the small trees from along the shoreline.
While they were working, a few Augusta residents drove by and went to the trouble of rolling down their windows to curse at them and heckle them for not taking care of the problem earlier.
Every job is easy for the person who doesn’t have to do it.
Now that the job is done, no equipment is stuck in the mud and shorelines look so much better. Hopefully some people will go out of their way to show appreciation for the job well done.
Author Stephanie Meyer could relate to these workers.
“It's sad when you can't make everyone happy, though. It's impossible but, at the same time, you still hope. You think, 'Maybe I can do it,' but you know you can't,” Meyer said. “But gosh, if I had to rely on giving people what they wanted, I would have had to write 40 billion different books and even then, I wouldn't get it right.”
I know how that is.
I never play devil’s advocate in my columns. I can’t write what someone else thinks and I can’t write some contrarian opinion just to make people think.
That’s too much work.
I just write what I think and feel. Readers are welcome to disagree with me because there have been many times where I have disagreed with my own columns a few weeks or months later when I learned something that made me change my mind.
I could never make everyone happy. In Kansas, I am a liberal voice bringing moderate ideas to the reddest of red states. But those same columns in Ohio or Connecticut or New York result in calls to my voicemail calling me a “typical, heartless, son of Satan Republican.”
Page 2 of 2 - Did you notice the quotation marks? That’s because that was a quote from this week from a reader in Ohio.
It doesn’t matter what I write, someone somewhere will disagree with it. As long as people can be at least somewhat reasonable in their dissent, it doesn’t bother me at all.
You have to realize that reasonable, intelligent and well-meaning people are going to disagree with you sometimes – even on your most heartfelt beliefs.
As hard as that is for a writer, think about how difficult it makes serving as an elected official. Even if you win in a landslide, 40 percent of the people in your district wanted someone else.
So who should a representative listen to?
During this government shutdown, representatives have to decide whether to listen to the party leadership, national polls or a few voices in their district.
What would you do? All have pros and cons associated with them.
No matter what a representative does, social media outrage will find them.
Whether it’s a city worker removing trees from a lake, a columnist sharing ideas or a congressman making decisions on which direction the country should go, outrage should be reserved for those who violate you intentionally.
Simple disagreements do not justify name-calling and angry diatribes.
Disagree all you like. But as the self-help book title says, you need to learn to “disagree without being disagreeable.”
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org