I was in New Zealand for the last month when Steve Moss died way too early at 56. What impressed me most about the people of New Zealand was how civil, polite, and kind they were, without exception. The harshest criticism I heard of a politician or worst enemy was that the person was "a little bit naughty." Steve Moss was "a little bit naughty," not evil or meansprited. Over the years we had a few run-ins over his reporting of Avila Beach to the point that we finally refused to advertise in New Times. I learned of Steve's death by reading two very meanspirited letters to editor.
I wrote only one letter to the editor in my life before now, and Steve sent me a note back that said, "You're right, everything checks out, but it puts you on the same page as a person we both dislike ... and I won't publish it unless you say yes." He didn't. I read the two hateful letters in last week's paper about Steve - we all can be "a little naughty" at times, but being a little more civil and polite isn't a bad thing either.
At 56, I like to think the Steve I experienced was the real Steve, and while he was "a little bit naughty" at times, he was good guy, too. And that complexity the is hardest part of understanding people.