Mixing Honesty in Small Town America with Big City Paranoia – Will Beer Summits Help?

CBS correspondent Steve Hartman recently did a feature on a small beach town where his family has vacationed each summer since he was a child called Lake Side, Ohio – a town where residents refuse to give into fear http://bit.ly/s6feP.

Shop keepers rent bikes without locks and report that they’ve never been stolen. “We’ve never had a bike stolen in 28 years,” Jackie Sypherd told Hartman. “If you expect the best from people that’s what you’re going to receive.”   They even leave sales items outside all night with money boxes so that customers can make purchases on the honor system – and nothing is ever stolen.

I would like to think that Lake Side is a metaphor for the way we could live together in harmony all over this country if we only could muster faith over fear. We did it once in wide swaths of this land, and I think of the unlocked doors in my paternal Grandparents’  rambling home in Colchester, Ontario, across Lake Erie from Lake Side as well as in my maternal Grandparents’ farmhouse near Vassar, Michigan.  That lasted into the 60s of my childhood  – and I wonder if President Obama’s beer summit was a step in the right direction of bringing trust to a new generation that is far more culturally mixed today.  There’s a lot of argument about whether Obama should have entered the dialogue at all in Cambridge and let it remain a local issue between Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates and Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley  http://bit.ly/VkDI1.

Perhaps, but once it got started,

the results from the dialogue have been mostly positive, getting the men to meet and talk and getting the country to begin cooling down its hardline positions (although Gates has still reported receiving death threats).  But it also highlighted how the one person who stayed above the racial fray­­– Lucia Whalen, the woman who made the 911 call– was careful to stick with the facts and was nevertheless vilified as racist until the transcript was played on the air proving she never mentioned that Gates was black.  She was not invited to the summit and when asked if she was resentful, Whalen  commented that she doesn’t like beer anyways.

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