Well, you are having quite the year, what with one thing and another. So many raised voices, so many unhappy people. I think that you are going through your teen years — lots of anger, lots of drama, and very little listening.
Yep, teen angst.
And on top of all that, you have just had an election in which out of 15,000 or so inhabitants, only a fraction thought to vote. Yep, rebellion is a mark of teenagers — rebellion coupled with indifference. At least they don’t seem to be smoking dope.
Some are really angry at football players who exercise their right to protest, and I can understand that is hard to take. But it is a constitutional right, like voting. Odd that so many are angry at the right to free speech but not as inspired by the patriotism of actually going to the polls. But teens are so lazy on a sunny day, or when they know they should do something that is a civic responsibility. It’s just teens waiting for maturity to drop into their heads.
When they grow up, they will know that voting, serving on a jury, running for an office in our dear little town — these are fought-for gifts that only citizens can perform. Maybe the next election will matter more to them, and we might get up to 45 percent voting.
In a couple of decades, we might even hit 100 percent. But right now, out of the 12,609 registered voters, only 28 percent of us found our way to the polls. I can guarantee that 100 percent will have plenty to say the rest of the years before our next election.
You know, teens respond to rewards. Maybe next time we could have someone handing out copies of the Constitution in chocolate. Maybe those who are recently made citizens to this country and reside here could give them a pep talk. Maybe we can organize a hayride with a dance to get voters out. The time to plan is now for our next election!
And to those who gave their time and hearts to running, we must say “thanks.” However, we need to remind those who run that we are a pretty decent place, where you run into your neighbor at Harris Teeter or Burney’s or at the gym, so saying things in a truthful and civil way is always best.
The world keeps pressing us to think in binary terms — black and white, yes and no. But life is really lived in the messy gray. When someone votes on a committee or on council for or against something, it is wise to ask them how and why they did. There is likely a consideration made that you may not have known about — a law or permitting practice you may not understand but can learn about.
Mind you, this may not change your opposition to a concept or plan. But should we not, as good citizens who are not really teenagers, ask the how-and-why questions? We are not to be herded by generalities as voters. We have the task of coming into understanding before we jump to incivility or name-calling.
We in this dear little village have borrowed too much from the larger world in this election. We should go back to being civil and inquisitive neighbors who are all looking toward the good future of Pinehurst, albeit with different points of view. We can find our way through the thicket of information with careful thought and meaningful engagement.
For the Village Council to be more effective, maybe we all need a refresher course in what we can and should do to engage as citizens, how we can be most effective for causes we hold dear, and how we can regain the art of clear explanations, coupled with active and open listening.
If we continue to act like teenagers, we will continue to have angry posters, snippy exchanges and no real movement toward our shared goal of a better future for Pinehurst, built on our past but not chained to our history in ways that no longer apply.
Teenagers grow out of the angst, anger, yelling and misbehaving, and so should we. And if you really care and are really patriotic, you must show up, with knowledge, and vote. Citizenship 101 is a seminar we all need to attend.
So. Draw a line under all of this, and pull up your sleeves to begin the work of being adult voters.
Joyce Reehling lives in Pinehurst. She retired here from New York after a 33-year career in theater, TV and commercials.