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The Breakfast Posse remarked, “Darn, Merriman, you’ve been so negative.” And, you know, they’re right. Arguing with kids less than half your age about the law, other attorneys who think you’re unreasonable and defendants who accuse that they’re being dissed by the system…and, football officiating hasn’t even started yet this year.

By Pat Merriman
While everyone was gone to Missouri this week, I had a chance to reflect and, the Posse is right. If all you dwell on is the flack that comes your way, you’re doomed. We all need to take a pill and a lesson from our County Commission.
We are just populated with too many selfish people right now who think that their opinion is all that matters. Both, radio, television the Internet. No one respects anyone else’s opinion. I was taught: you talk, I listen; and, I rebut, you listen. This new, strident, arguing tone just raises your blood pressure and shortens your life… which is way too short anyway.
The Dunn County Commission meetings are the epitome of civil discourse. No matter who you are, you get to say your piece. Everyone is treated with respect and, although the opposing sides may disagree, no one calls you a liar, an idiot or shouts you down. It’s called mutual respect. Something missing in most institutions now.
In trying to write a positive piece this week, it occurs to me that it’s not just our younger citizens either. Those of us “seasoned” citizens, are getting tired of the disrespect and losing our tempers too. We were raised on, “you give respect now so that you’ll get it when you’re older.” And, with age comes wisdom, so, listen now so you’ll be wise later. SIGH…not since the mid-1990’s.
Frankly, that’s the hardest part for new students in the martial arts class I teach. Stand up, speak with authority, mouth closed, ears open and use the King’s English. “Hay is for horses”, “Your mother’s name is not mooooooooom” and “If you already knew what you were doing, we’d all be coming to you.” It’s called discipline and common courtesy. Earn your respect…don’t demand it.
If you don’t get your way, stop calling people liars, accusing them of malfeasance or incompetence. Just because you draw breath, doesn’t make you right and, reasonable minds can disagree. And, how about giving respect to our elders. They earned it because they made it this far and, picked up wisdom along the way. I know I did. It’s funny how smart my “stupid” Dad, Granpa and Grandma are now 40 years later.
And, I’ll tell you something else—there’s this thing called constructive criticism. I know I learned from it as an autistic kid. When someone actually took the time to sit down with me and explain inappropriate versus appropriate behavior. My favorite story is my football coach. It seemed to me that he rode my butt every day. I could never please him.
Finally, I had enough. One day he told me to hit the track for an insubordinate remark, so, I sat down in the middle of the track and started pounding it with my fist. When coach called me on it, my 17-year-old, immature self let HIM have it. He stood silently during the tirade, waited and said, “You done? See that senior over there?” “Yeah, you never yell at him.” “That’s because he’s not worth yelling at…now get out there and lead your team.”
I never forgot that lesson. Don’t assume that because someone disagrees with you that they’re stupid or wrong. If they’re in charge, there’s a good reason for it.
Pat Merriman is the Dunn County State Attorney. He is a photographer and also officiates high school and college athletics events in the area.

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