The late George Highland, elected to Atascaderos first City Council in the summer of 1979, loved to point out that the level of controversy on any given meeting night generally depended on whose ox was being gored.
He was right. Sometimes it was mine and other times my neighbors, such as a homeless shelter trying to find acceptance adjoining a single-family neighborhood.
What has me so concerned is the intense animosity among political parties, friends and neighbors, employee groups and everyone else.
What got me to thinking about all this were two stories in The Tribune last week regarding prayer at public meetings. One had to do with prayers at the Pismo Beach City Council meetings and a similar complaint in the town of Greece, N.Y.
As a longtime practicing atheist, Ive had to endure a lot of praying at public and civic club meetings. And, I guess, thats my point. I stand politely when asked to do so and sometimes bow my head and endure it because it seems a waste of time and money to pursue litigation over stopping such a thing. Personally, I believe if God really did answer prayer Id be five inches taller and sport a head of hair like John Kerry.
There are more and more of us in the world who have to get along with one another. That is going to require more tolerance, not less.
Remember people protesting the showing of Disneys Fantasia 25 years ago because they felt the cartoon elephants in pink tights were offensive to heavy people?
Unless my wife and I can move to a deserted island somewhere, we have to put up with things we dont like. Thankfully, it is her putting up with me.
If I had my way, tattoos would be against the law along with wearing a ball cap backward unless you earn your living as a welder. People who dont use turn signals would be sentenced to that deserted island I talked about.
Id outlaw those obnoxious air horns at sporting events and graduation ceremonies that cause me to jump out of my skin every time they go off.
The way things are going, it wont be long before Ill be able to join in a class-action lawsuit against the Catholic Church for my having to eat fish on Fridays in the elementary and high school cafeterias.
Lon Allan has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades, and his column is published weekly. Reach him at 466-8529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.