Pinch of Salt Graphic (English)

I'm feeling more than a little irrelevant this week.

That's not quite right. Maybe it's not irrelevance, but rather feeling sidelined.

It stems, I think, from not being a part of the news coverage of the horrendous wildfires or the heinous mass shooting in Thousand Oaks. Journalists from all over the state, including a good chunk of the Southern California News Group, have been doing yeomen's work keeping us as informed as possible.

I've covered my share of disasters, natural and manmade, in my time. There's an adrenaline rush, and a sense of mission, in that kind of reporting that's hard to match.

And it does make writing about spats over palm trees or traffic plans feel a little less important.

That's primarily because they are a little less important, at least compared to the life-changing, life-shattering events to the north of us.

I've talked here before about setting priorities, trying to understand what's really something worth getting worked up about. And don't get me wrong — I understand trees or traffic lanes might impact your life, so that's important to you. But is it really important enough to lose sleep over, to browbeat others over?

There are stories right now about families in Thousand Oaks who had children or friends at the mass shooting at a bar on college night, and then turned around to be evacuated from their home — a home that was destined to burn down. That is an impacted life.

It's a matter of perspective, I suppose. If you get up in the morning determined to be a victim, mad at everyone, your issues are going to feel life-shattering. Hey, the city's messing up and deliberately making my life a little less comfortable. They're going to pay.

Ever feel that way? Then consider what it must be like to wake up in the middle of a long march to escape a country where your life is in danger, and hear that the place you're going to is mobilizing troops to keep you out. That, my friends, is a bad day.

I have to be careful here. My parents pulled that, "eat your peas; there are starving children in Africa," ploy on me, just like I bet yours did to you. It didn't make me like, or eat, peas, and I'm pretty sure my parents didn't mail them to Africa.

I've said often that I try to impact the community I live in, where I might make a difference. That doesn't mean that I don't worry about the state of our country, or the suffering of others in our state. If I see ways I can make a difference there (like vote, or donate), I'll do it. And I'll try to keep my concerns in perspective, too.

There's a little prayer that I say often that deals with these things pretty directly. Indulge me, if you will.

"Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

It is something I strive for, and I often fall short. But it does give me a balance as well as a goal, both in my job and in my life.

So maybe I'm not so irrelevant after all. At least I won't be, if I do what I can where I am.

And I'll say a prayer for those who are suffering today, too. It can't hurt.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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