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The perfect antidote to the bitterness swirling unabated around us: Be sweet
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There are a whole lot of people bristling in anger.

The rage in the vast echo chamber of the Internet never abates.

It finds ways with each passing day to become more prevalent sinking venomous bytes — as well as old school bites — into people, culture, and personal choices that  are hard to fathom.

I'd like to think it is about politics. It’s not.

It’s about our growing intolerance for people who don't think like us, who don’t act like us, and who have different values than us.

In a way it's worse than people simply being intolerant of skin tone, ethnicity, or gender.

Those broad strokes of bigotry as repulsive and unacceptable as they are, seem not to be anchored as firmly in the rigid concrete of intolerance that reeks from one who has determined they are the one and only person that matters on earth.

And you can’t blame this one on Trump, Biden, Democrats, Republicans, the right as defined by MAGA zealots or the left as defined by AOC disciples.

The venom that is spilling forth during street gatherings, on social media, and even in the halls of Congress is nothing new. It’s been amplified 40 times over, however, by our growing disconnection with people.

We might be able to text, talk, or blog with a complete stranger halfway around the globe as we have our nose buried in a smartphone without getting off of our couch, but are we really communicating let alone understanding the world?

We find people who reaffirm who we believe we are in terms of values and viewpoints to such a degree that our intolerance spreads like a cancer ravaging our souls and hearts.

There was a time when supporters of Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater could not only be friends but could engage in civil conversation and work together finding common ground while compromising with betraying their core values.

Today cordial exchanges among those who disagree are as rare as a palm tree on the Arctic tundra.

Discourse has gone from something akin to crooning to playing heavy metal thumper music turned all the way up in a Honda Civic shaking its way down Yosemite Avenue.

We can’t hear what anyone else is saying because we’re hell-bent on drowning them out.

Everybody is a victim. Everybody is wronged. Everybody demands something.

In a way it’s too bad we haven’t had a run of bad luck to deal with such as the Great Depression giving way to World War II. In the darkest hours of unspeakable cruelty, repugnant behavior and outright wholesale slaughtering of human life, humanity managed to have some of its finest moments of grace, compassion, understanding, and willingness to sacrifice for others, most of whom were complete strangers.

All is not lost.

But if how we carry on public discourse continues for much longer in its current state we will become tone deaf to the concept of humanity leaving us to the point we resort to sign language built exclusively around the middle finger.

It's at times like this I think back to New Year’s Eve 1963. My parents we enjoying a rare night out and I was staying with my grandmother Edna Towle in a small house she built with her own hands after leaving her ranch where she raised her 10 children during the Great Depression after her husband fell in love with the bottle and abandoned his family.

Grandmother was bundled in her chair next to the gas stove heater. We were playing Chinese checkers and solitaire that night.

She talked about good and evil as we played and how life wasn’t fair but that was no excuse to quit.

Grandmother looked at me straight in the eye and warned me against ever being bitter.

“Don’t go around with a chip on your shoulder,” she told me. “And if you do to others what they have done to you then you are no better than they are.”

I admit as a 5-year-old the meaning went right over my head. But that evening she repeated those words numerous times as she talked and I chattered.

It wasn't until years later when I learned grandmother was faced with raising 10 kids on her own on an isolated ranch in Nevada County at the height of the Great Depression that her words that New Year's Eve became rather powerful.

Faced with near financial ruin due to the lingering Depression, she sold the ranch to a land swindler who was aware the government — based on inside information — wanted it for the planned Beale Air Corps base and were going to approach local landowners in the coming months with offers.

Weeks after buying the ranch from grandmother, the land swindler turned around and sold it for almost three times what he paid for the ranch to the Department of the Army.

The Army air base is today Beale Air Force Base.

The sale of the ranch allowed grandmother to start all over again at age 60 working three jobs while building a new home to shelter herself and her three youngest kids who were still in school.

Had she received what the government was willing to pay for the land — the inside information the land swindler had — and just waited a few weeks she could have perhaps worked one less job or provided better for her children.

But she saw no upside in bitterness. Nor did she spend a lifetime awash in self-righteous indignation over what could have been.

Grandmother Towle also would remind me to remember to “be sweet.”

I can’t help but wonder how much of we’d all be as a nation if we didn't carry that proverbial chip on our shoulder or when we had the urge to be angry to try and rein that emotion back in by being sweet.

My grandmother wasn’t perfect nor was she without fault. But she did know how to go through life without becoming bitter and resentful.

It's something we need to keep in mind.

Just think of how you can change the climate that really counts — how

Be sweet. They are two words to try and live by.


 This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at