We recently had our first cold spell this winter. Each morning I look out at a thermometer on my deck to see how cold it is, then turn on the radio for the forecast.

As a native Minnesotan, I receive a certain satisfaction in being tough and able to endure what would seriously challenge the survival skills of people in warmer climates.

Indoor temperature is another matter. I try to keep the thermostat in the house set a bit low for some people’s tastes, but will turn it up whenever we have visitors.

Thermometers and thermostats, although the words sound quite similar, there is a world of difference in what they do. A thermometer gives a reading of how hot or cold it is. That’s it. A thermostat on the other hand, senses when a room is getting uncomfortably cold or hot and kicks in the furnace or air conditioner to change the room temperature.

When we express feelings, fact and opinions on issues in our community, school or neighborhood, we are being thermometers. We might evaluate a person or situation in terms of good or bad, hot or cold according to some criteria, but if that is all we do, we are no more than thermometers, giving reading of the ambient temperature.

On the other hand, if we move from opinion and evaluations to actions, if we respond by finding ways to support and encourage the good as well as finding ways to bring about positive improvement in situations that need change, we are like thermostats, making a difference in our community and for those around us.

Being only a thermometer, constantly complaining about the cold, is not going to make the situation any better. On the contrary, complaining will only make me be more focused on my discomfort and feel colder, well on second thought, it may have the additional effect of encouraging others to complain or avoid my company.

We have just finished our second challenging year of COVID, and I know we will need more thermostats in our community as we move into 2022 and beyond. I wish all readers a great new year.

Chuck Briscoe, of Bloomington, is a former Guardian Angels Catholic School principal.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.