Keep Calm
Off the Wall, June 16,

One thing that we all have realized in the courses of conversations with others is that sometimes our opinions differ and we aren’t on the same page. Three things happen while these discussions occur whereby situations arise.

First, one may get defensive, his or her tones of voices increase, and someone loses his cool. Before one knows it, that nice conversation, that once was peaceful, turns into a shouting match. What results sure isn’t pretty. In the course of time, there may even be things said that should have never been mentioned, comments that one wishes he or her never said. We all know what happens if things get out of hand. There is too much on the news that gives evidence of that, need I say more.

Instead of talking about the latter, I would to talk a little bit today about the word, ‘argue.’ I’m often accused of committing the act, but when it comes right down to it, I state that I’m not doing so. I just want further discuss the issue.

Am I wrong when I tell others I want to further do that? I love to understand legalities, how they came to be and what are the penalties associated with each.

There certainly is a lot of judge-television programs aired these days. There are people, me included, who like to watch a judge iron out issues between two parties. Just to make one thing clear. I stay away from divorce court and programs that show individuals screaming at another concerning facts announced by hosts that state, “You are the father…” That sickens me.

Getting back to the subject of arguing, I think it is hard sometimes to refrain from raising one’s voice in a course of conversation. People today consume more caffeine more than they should. Sugar will cause others to be high strung. Combine the two ingredients and a formula has been created just waiting for the match to strike.

I recently wrote to a good friend of mine, Mary Winklehauser, about church doctrine, and she stated in her opening statement, “I can’t argue any of this.” It’s like this. I don’t like to argue, will try to refrain from it, and most of all, stay calm.

Maybe that is just an expression that Mary used, but I think the word is used too loosely. Is arguing the same as discussing? To me, argue means to ‘hold a conversation with raised voices.’ To discuss, again from my point of view is to ‘calmly talk over the facts until conclusions are reached.’ Let’s see what the dictionary says.

Argue: ‘to contest a measure or opinion, reason 2. Dispute or quarrel 3. To reason in opposition 4. To discuss.’

Discuss: ‘talk about 2. Argue the faults and merits of.’

That’s interesting. When it comes right down to it, they mean the same. But not really, in my opinion.

A gentleman who has served the community of Latrobe for years recently pointed out a sign on a telephone pole on the corner of Walnut and Ligonier Streets, and told me why it was put there. When I learned of its purpose, I strongly objected to his interpretation. But I never raised my voice and became argumentative. I stayed as possibly calm as I could until I found out the truth. Then I emailed him and ‘spilled the beans.’

After contacting and interviewing a number of well-informed individuals, I learned that the reason that sign was erected there was for a purpose. The ordinance reads, “It shall be unlawful for any person to ride a skateboard, in-line skates or any other wheeled device upon any street, all or public roadway within Latrobe (not including bicycles) or upon any sidewalk in Latrobe inside the area bounded by the westerly curbline of Alexandria Street on the east, Jefferson Street on the west, the railroad tracks on the north and the northerly curbline of Walnut Street on the south.”

I did learn additionally that bikers journeying on sidewalks must walk their bicycles within the described area above.

If one wants to read the ordinances concerning bicycling, go the ‘City of Latrobe’ website and pull up ‘PA Bicycles and Skateboards’ found under 183-11. What I disclosed was amended Sept. 11, 1995, ordinance number1995-3.

The tip of the day is this. If one thinks a conversation is heading in the wrong direction, stop talking before it gets out of hand. Better to say few words than too many.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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