Press Release – Examiner – Barbers and Civil Discourse

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Matt Beem
President and COO
Hartsook Companies, Inc.

Barbers and civil discourse

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Independence, MO – I become more convinced each year how important my barber shop is.

It serves the obvious purpose of keeping me neatly trimmed. In recent years, that’s included more than the hair on my head; it’s also covered my increasingly unwieldy eyebrows, the flourishing mien on the back of my neck and the pioneers that recently established camp in my ears.

I’m told these trends will continue.

Yet as frustrating as life’s follicle folly is, it’s also reassuring. Because of it, I know I’ll continue frequenting my barber shop, which offers much more than a good cut.

Take my most recent visit to Jerry’s Barber Shop at 1308 E. U.S. 24 in Independence. As usual, the conversation was chock-full of good stuff.

I learned why Jerry and my barber, Esther, are glad the recent attempt to raise Independence property taxes to benefit the city’s police department failed. For starters, they said, the increase would have been permanent and couldn’t be repealed. Beyond that, they said voters weren’t given enough information on how the police department would have spent the tax revenue.

They made their points passionately. And while I’m generally in favor of taxes that improve the public good, I agreed with their assessment and enjoyed the interchange.

There are plenty of times, though, when I disagree with the clipping room chatter. Every barber shop serves up diverse perspectives; if you hang around long enough, you’ll hear some things you agree with and plenty you don’t.

Those who frequent Jerry’s know he tends toward the conservative and Esther toward the liberal side of most political issues. I followed Esther to Jerry’s from her previous barber shop for her great haircuts and because we see things through the same lens.

Yet I enjoy the back and forth about our city’s, county’s, state’s and nation’s political issues and leaders. I may not agree with everything I hear, but I always learn something new and share my perspectives with the same respect others offer theirs.

I’ve also learned a lot of seemingly trivial yet potentially valuable things at Jerry’s. He’s introduced me to the Hutterites, a religious community founded in the 16th century by Jakob Hutter. Jerry recounts his hunting trips on the Hutterites’ property and speaks fondly of their cooking and hospitality.

And one of Esther’s young adult relatives, who stopped in to see her during one of my recent haircuts, taught me a lot about auto body restoration. He’s doing a great job restoring a 1980s Chevrolet like the one my dad drove when I was a teenager.

So what do barber shops have to do with philanthropy?

Expressing our opinions takes courage. The ability to share our views and learn of others’ beliefs is a gift our nation’s founders ensured for us. It’s a freedom we’re entrusted to extend to others.

There are few places in a community where that exchange happens more honestly and openly than the barber shop.

So if you really want to know what’s going on in the world, your local barber shop is the place to learn it – along with the opinions and perspectives of those relaying the day’s news.

And if you haven’t been to Jerry’s lately, I encourage you to stop by. He recently remodeled the shop, and you’re sure to learn something new.

I become more convinced each year how important my barber shop is.

It serves the obvious purpose of keeping me neatly trimmed. In recent years, that’s included more than the hair on my head; it’s also covered my increasingly unwieldy eyebrows, the flourishing mien on the back of my neck and the pioneers that recently established camp in my ears.

I’m told these trends will continue.

Yet as frustrating as life’s follicle folly is, it’s also reassuring. Because of it, I know I’ll continue frequenting my barber shop, which offers much more than a good cut.

Take my most recent visit to Jerry’s Barber Shop at 1308 E. U.S. 24 in Independence. As usual, the conversation was chock-full of good stuff.

I learned why Jerry and my barber, Esther, are glad the recent attempt to raise Independence property taxes to benefit the city’s police department failed. For starters, they said, the increase would have been permanent and couldn’t be repealed. Beyond that, they said voters weren’t given enough information on how the police department would have spent the tax revenue.

They made their points passionately. And while I’m generally in favor of taxes that improve the public good, I agreed with their assessment and enjoyed the interchange.

There are plenty of times, though, when I disagree with the clipping room chatter. Every barber shop serves up diverse perspectives; if you hang around long enough, you’ll hear some things you agree with and plenty you don’t.

Those who frequent Jerry’s know he tends toward the conservative and Esther toward the liberal side of most political issues. I followed Esther to Jerry’s from her previous barber shop for her great haircuts and because we see things through the same lens.

Yet I enjoy the back and forth about our city’s, county’s, state’s and nation’s political issues and leaders. I may not agree with everything I hear, but I always learn something new and share my perspectives with the same respect others offer theirs.

I’ve also learned a lot of seemingly trivial yet potentially valuable things at Jerry’s. He’s introduced me to the Hutterites, a religious community founded in the 16th century by Jakob Hutter. Jerry recounts his hunting trips on the Hutterites’ property and speaks fondly of their cooking and hospitality.

And one of Esther’s young adult relatives, who stopped in to see her during one of my recent haircuts, taught me a lot about auto body restoration. He’s doing a great job restoring a 1980s Chevrolet like the one my dad drove when I was a teenager.

So what do barber shops have to do with philanthropy?

Expressing our opinions takes courage. The ability to share our views and learn of others’ beliefs is a gift our nation’s founders ensured for us. It’s a freedom we’re entrusted to extend to others.

There are few places in a community where that exchange happens more honestly and openly than the barber shop.

So if you really want to know what’s going on in the world, your local barber shop is the place to learn it – along with the opinions and perspectives of those relaying the day’s news.

And if you haven’t been to Jerry’s lately, I encourage you to stop by. He recently remodeled the shop, and you’re sure to learn something new.

> Matt Beem Bio