What’s Up With the Ants?

By Bethel Prescott April 17, 2019

Some people in Jefferson County have been sporting buttons with a little black ant. They’re cute, but why would anyone wish to wear an ant? Why, in fact, does this newspaper have those little ants on our masthead? Ants have long been a symbol of industriousness, but there is more to the story than Aesop here.

These ants that you see around town represent a South American phrase “Revolution is the work of ants” meaning that the work of changing the world happens one tiny step at a time. Everyone has their part. Everyone’s efforts are needed.

You won’t always know what everyone else is doing to move things along. You may know that your neighbor writes letters to the editor to bring awareness of an issue to everyone in town. You may read an article that features an acquaintance who is working hard to keep poisons out of our creeks and bays. This is good work

But so too is the work done by the quiet ones. The people who bring food to the hungry. Warmth to the unhoused. The woman who always has voter registration forms with her, just in case. She does the work of ants. The man who organizes movie nights that entertain and educate. He is doing the work of ants.

You too can be an ant. All you have to do is something.

Tips for disagreeing with friends

By Bethel Prescott April 17, 2019

Have you ever been in a discussion with a friend and discovered there is something you don’t agree on? It’s easy to ignore it when the topic is music, or where the best place for coffee is*. But other subjects can pose a real challenge. And we all may face some very serious discussions in the months ahead.

The first thing to try to remember is we are, mostly, friends and neighbors here. We share the same spaces. Our kids or grandkids play together. We see each other at the Co-Op or the Rhody Festival. Jefferson County is too small, and life is too short to not at least try hard to stay friendly when we disagree with each other.

Online spaces
Always remember there is a human being on the other end of your message. Maybe what they posted makes you angry. That’s human. But it’s important to remember that writing can’t convey nuances that facial expressions and body language can.
Take a moment. Assume the best of the other person.
Still upset? You find you simply can’t agree with their point of view? Try to remember that it’s OK to disagree. It really is.
Maybe you can meet up in person and talk things over. But remember that not everyone has time for that. Sometimes it’s best to just wish the other person the best and bow out of the discussion.

In person
It may sound trite, but taking a deep breath and counting to ten works wonders. Try to avoid impersonal and sweeping statements. “You guys ALWAYS…” is never going to go anywhere good. “I feel… ” can move mountains.
Telling someone that their friends are “crazy” doesn’t help anyone. If you already know you don’t agree with someone on a subject, try to stick to the issue between the two of you. If you’d like to learn more about this topic, two good search terms are “I statements” and “conflict resolution”

A little perspective goes a long way. Remember, as long as the other party isn’t advocating death and destruction of others, you’ve probably got a lot more in common with them than you’re remembering in the moment.

*Everyone knows the best place for Coffee in Jefferson County is Easy Times Espresso in Irondale.