Every week, like our other columnists, I stare at a blank screen and wait for inspiration to occur. Some weeks, there are thoughts fighting to escape and the problem becomes how to organize them into coherent reading. Other weeks, that blank screen keeps staring back at me, just waiting for words to fill it up to completion. I never know what kind of week it's going to be when I sit down in front of my computer.
When the paper is published, the words I've chosen that week are unchangeable. Whatever I have decided to share with our readers, on Wednesday morning it's too late for me to change it. Some weeks, I'm proud of my efforts. Other weeks, I have to wonder just what I was thinking.
It goes beyond just my column. As editor, I have to decide what items make it on the front page and where the various other stories and photos are placed throughout the newspaper. I try to make sure that all aspects of our community are represented and covered; and, that as many diverse voices as possible are given the opportunity to make themselves heard as part of our lives together.
I do occasionally catch some grief for something we've published; or, more frequently, for something I've written in my column. And, just as frequently, I get some complaints for what articles I've chosen for inclusion on specific pages.
Our recent Spring Visitors' Guide that we published last week is a good example of choices that I've made in an attempt to represent Mason County as best I can, for both residents, and for visitors. That's why there were articles about enjoying the Llano River. And, that's why the Guide included listings of places to eat around the area, and a walking tour of the downtown area. There were also suggestions on ways to enjoy working out in the county, and ways to record images of the county on film and canvas.
All of the articles reflect conscious choices on my part show Mason in the best light possible. I decided on topics that I felt were important for the Guide, I contacted authors for those pieces, and I decided where they would go in the publication. And, I decided on articles that showed the heart of our town, which goes a long way toward explaining to visitors why we are the way we are.
I contacted J. W. Harle of Mason Young Life about composing an article detailing the opportunities for young people to socialize in Mason County. He responded with a detailed listing of the many youth groups sponsored by local churches and religious groups around the area. All in all, it was a great piece that I think many of our visitors will find useful when they travel to Mason with their children.
I also made the decision to expand our church directory beyond just phone numbers and street addresses. I sent word to the Mason Ministerial Alliance of my plans, and we had fairly decent responses from most of the ministers (and we'll work to get the rest of them next time). The end result was a lengthy article about the choices for worship in Mason County, in the ministers' own words, explaining to our readers what their houses of worship offer to residents and visitors.
I explained at the beginning of the article that the list of churches only included Christian houses of worship, because that's what we have in Mason. If we had a Buddhist temple, a Jewish temple, a Muslim mosque or any other group that was part of Mason County, I would have included their information as well.
I am a person of strong Christian faith. But, I'm also the member of a denomination that believes in welcoming everyone with an open heart and open arms, even when they may not agree with my beliefs. And, my faith urges me to always be open to witnessing about my own beliefs whenever possible. Not proselytizing, not screaming at someone until they agree with me, and not requiring that everyone believe exactly as I do.
By sharing through words, through acts and through actions, I will be a witness to my faith. If that causes someone to want to be like me, I am pleased. If that causes someone to reexamine their faith and become stronger in their own faith, I am just as pleased. I have never felt pressured to stop sharing how I feel, even if I have had some people tell me they don't agree with what I have said. And I'll never stop urging others to be just as open with their feelings and beliefs.
That's why I love my town.
It’s all just my opinion.