Christian faith. Obviously that does not sit well with me. After several attempts at logic the dialogue disintegrated to a hullabaloo. I wish others would have assisted in putting this poor lost soul in his place. Of course posting anonymously allows people to be cruel without fear of actual retribution.
By using my real name I become a target of some folks. For example there was this one guy who will go unnamed, whose parentage I was certainly questioning enjoyed taking cheap shots at me, hiding behind a computer screen of course. If I was vindictive, and since I have a monthly column my retribution would reach a wider audience, if I wanted I could make comments like "just think if I had been willing to engage a prostitute I could have been your daddy" or "if brains were lard, you wouldn't have enough to grease a pan." Luckily I rise above such shenanigans. However, it points out the danger of engaging in discussion forums. If everyone had to utilize their real name, more people might be tempted to "layeth the smack-down upon a wimpy rear-end." Like most folks I dismiss critics who do not have the courage to sign their real name. Several folks who attacked me later apologized, a gesture I appreciated. But utilizing your real name gives you credibility.
The recent debate in Cleveland over camera's in police cars, Mayfield School, among other items began as discussions on this website. People overwhelmingly favored putting cameras in police cars as a means of protecting citizens, police officers and the city from potential lawsuits. The virtual community also opposed building a new Mayfield School on a location that had been an asbestos dump. I discovered that many local politicians like Sheriff Dan Gilley, Max Carroll, and Rick Denning were not liked. Whereas Wes Snyder, Tim Gobble, Richard Banks, George Poe, Murl Dirksen, and Mel Griffith have much support. Some of this was a real surprise to me. Political leaders better start taking this form of medium serious. Ask Lee Reese.
People are getting their news from non-traditional sources. Newspapers like The People News and the Bradley News Weekly easily compete in many ways with the Cleveland Daily Banner. I would argue that the Weekly has better investigative reporting than the Cleveland Banner. I think the People News has some of the better editorials. There are no sacred cows for Pete Edwards. Like him or not, Pete tells it like it is. Another "controversial writer" J. Michael Leonard, a former Bradley Weekly writer, makes his home at HometownCleveland. Without a doubt J. Michael is one of the more creative forces in Cleveland. Completely uncensored, he does some of his better work and reaches many more readers with his "McHarp Cartoons" and "Out of My Mind" editorials. If I was a politician or business I would flock to these sources to help get my message out.
But you should be aware there are indeed charlatans out there, gossip is still gossip and if you read something it doesn't always make it true. Check the facts. Engage at your comfort level. Try to build bridges. Remember that conversations are brief exchanges, so often it may take many conversations to make your point. People do not like to be spammed or bombarded with hate. While spelling and grammar are often neglected, it is okay to do it correctly. There are trolls out there. People looking to fight or debate, it is okay to not respond. Also limit your time on the Internet. Do not let your computer replace your television as your baby-sitter and best friend. Seriously keep all of these devices time limited, there is a real world outside your window.
The next red dirt road could be through the information super highway, but no matter how advanced we get as a society... it is still the local experience and your individual decisions that shape our character. I never imagined being called a religious extremist for simply standing up and saying to others that it is okay to share your faith in public. But at my age, and as I get nearer to the time when I will meet God in person, when He can answer all those pesky questions people debate. I can live with that reputation. On my path to heaven, I hope God thinks I am a religious extremist as well. Maybe I will sing that line for God. that happiness on earth ain't just for high achievers.
I want to wish my father-in-law Bob O'Bannon and my Aunt Jean Eldredge, faithful People News readers, an especially happy birthday this month. Happy Birthday Bob and Aunt Jean!
--J. C. Bowman is a public policy analyst who resides in Tallahassee, Florida. He can be reached by email at: