Skating away to new point of view | VailDaily.com
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Skating away to new point of view

Don Rogers

I am sometimes accused of letting you take a side just so I can line up on the other.Of trying to get you stirred up, playing devil’s advocate, stirring the pot, trying to sell papers. Of being obnoxious just for the pure, unadulterated joy of it.But for the smirk while jousting with the pack of young hounds in the newsroom, they’d believe I even meant what I said while challenging their assumptions, insinuating they drink too much of the Democratic leadership’s Kool Aid instead of truly thinking the issue of the second through for themselves.Or as my wife and teenage kids all too often put it: “Would. You. Just. Shut. Up!”Um, no. I’m on a mission. I guess.Doctors and lawyers and CEOs have their important work. As do teachers and nurses and firefighters, as I once was back when the white hat of the good guy fit, and the knees were still snug. Sales people, plumbers and bureaucrats. Politicians, developers and even we journalists. We all make our contributions. Mine is to sometimes be a little provocative. I suppose I don’t have to enjoy it so much.There’s truth to the suspicions, too. Guilty as charged. My conviction is less being objectively right about a civic issue than you taking more of an interest in your own community. Or country, as the case may be.We’re human. All of us. Sorry about that. But as such our emotions hold the key to our minds. Admit it. We pay more attention when we are cranky about something. Otherwise we glide along with our assumptions, agree too easily with the like-minded, skip the mental heavy lifting. So much effort, you know. This autopilot is worse than cooking with aluminum, getting stuck on “Survivor,” drinking to oblivion each night.But then again, national politics have become too easy these days. We’re so incredibly polarized. Every issue cuts this way: Hate Bush, here’s another chance to bash him, maybe this will be the one that takes him down. Otherwise, there go those nuts making mountains of nuthin’ again.Both parties have such obvious holes in their rhetoric and so many true believers too willing to overlook those Grand Canyons, to forget the sordid history of their own party, and to pretend fiercely that only their team has all the answers.That is to say, what a target-rich field for we obnoxious pundits. My colleague Matt Zalaznick, a sort of local anti-Ann Coulter, goes at it frequently from one side. He never fails to raise a din among the more conservative types, along with quiet encouragement to “go get them GOPers.” Believe me, he has plenty of fans. Last Monday I teased from the other side. The reaction stunned me – downright combustible from some. As much as I don’t mind goading to get folks thinking a little harder, the blowback came with precious little brainpower. These folks remained stuck on autopilot even as they raged. So maybe I need to rethink this. Provoking only works to a point. Inspiration has its place, too. Harder, more fickle material, this inspiration. Try to inspire and nearly always you just come off as sappy or boring, or boring and sappy. You can’t force it, much like humor.I’m thinking this from the most astonishing of vantages, at least for me. Watching the Olympics, engulfed in sappy story lines.And speaking of boring, figure skating has always been my least favorite event in the Olympics. That is to say, I loathe the event every bit as much as my wife loves it. And – sigh – she really loves it. The whole thing. The dancing. The drama. The melodrama. The funny terms. The breathless commentary over so little. The constant references to these dancing dolls “fighting” through this and that. Please. So why am I this huge Sasha Cohen fan tonight as I write? By accident I caught her short program the other night. I found myself holding my breath as she worked through her program. Gasped as she landed her spinning jumps. Exulted with her at the end. Then tonight, oh, oh. I fretted at the doubt in her eyes as she slid into starting position, fell with her falls on the first two jumps, and was lifted by the heart she showed hanging in there. I mean, for ice skating? But true. Something about her had me skating along, downright inspired by someone I have nothing in common with, in a sport I detest. She blew all that away. A deeply held position shifted. I see through new eyes. We all make our contributions.Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14600, or editor@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado


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