WHAT'S RIGHT WITH DALLAS?
There has been a great deal of discussion about Dallas in recent weeks in both the domestic and foreign press. Some reporters have done a "quickie" on our city and others have stayed long enough to make less superficial studies. The truth of the matter is that no one can get to know a city in a day, a week. or a month. Those of us who have lived here for a lifetime are so close to the picture that we too sometimes fail to see either some of the pertinent details or the entire composition.
We think there's a lot right with Dallas. We think the dynamic growth of this city in the past thirty years has been no accident; that the factors that motivated this growth are still present and can continue to contribute to the development of Dallas as one of the major centers of distribution, banking, specialized manufacturing, insurance in the country. We think Dallas' leadership which has devoted itself unselfishly to community problems and needs is unique in the country. We think that our local government has been distinguished among all American cities by the integrity and honesty of its elected and appointed officials. We think that our citizens are friendly and kind hearted human beings who extend genuinely warm welcomes to newcomers to our city.
All of this doesn't mean that there aren't things about Dallas that couldn't be improved. As Erik Jonsson, our distinguished fellow citizen, said recently, "I have always believed that individuals, corporations, and communities should have a regular stock taking of what they are and what they are trying to be, and how they would accomplish their objectives. I do agree that this is a good time to do that stock taking. It is year end and this is traditionally a time of reflection and introspection." We concur with Mr. Jonsson that a city, like individuals or business institutions, must take an honest look at its inventory and be willing to consider its faults as well as its assets. A city like the individual or corporation can't stand still -- it must go ahead or fall behind.
Here seems to us to be some of the areas for community improvement -- areas in which each of us as citizens, taxpayers and voters can exercise both individual and collective influence. One, Dallas has a slum problem that it hasn't faced up to as yet. We've talked about it for years and we've done relatively little to improve blighted areas which won't disappear by wishful thinking. We have not solved the problem of low cost housing. Two, this community has suffered from a spirit of "absolutism" in recent years. This was expressed most cogently in a recent editorial of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"What should concern Dallas and every other city is that the extremists of far right and far left have this in common, that they alienate themselves from the main stream of American democracy by an absolutism of political temper which is fundamentally hostile to our principles."
"It is the absolutist, whether of left or right, that democracy has to fear. This is the man who thinks that he alone possesses wisdom, patriotism and virtue, who recognizes no obligation to accept community decisions with which he disagrees, who regards any means as justified by the end, who views the political process as a power struggle to impose conformity rather than a means of reconciling differences.
"Democracy is a method of reaching a consensus. Those who reject the consensus reject democracy."
The rejection of this spirit of "absolutism" and the acceptance and insistence by all citizens on toleration of differing points of view seem to us to be essential for the future health of our community. We believe our newspapers have an important contribution to make in regard to this matter and we hope they will lead the way by the presentation of balanced points of view on controversial issues.
Third, we are still a young city and much of our time and energy has been devoted to physical growth which has been phenomenal. Now, the time has come when more attention needs to be paid to the quality of our endeavors than the size of them. This applies to our schools and colleges, our symphonies, operas, and museums. It applies to the quality of support that we as citizens give them as well.
Finally, we think that Dallas should forget about its "civic image" as such. The best public relations comes from doing good things and by not doing bad things. Let's have more "fair play" for legitimate differences of opinion, less coverup for our obvious deficiences, less boosting about our attainments, more moral indignation by all of us when we see human rights imposed upon. Then we won't have to worry about the "Dallas Image" -- it will take care of itself.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
From the Stanley Marcus Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University. Used with permission.