I’ve always been tickled with labels proclaiming food to be “sugar free,” or “fat free,” because we’ve all be trained to read labels and find out for ourselves whether that particular food is suitable – or edible for us individually.

Government can proclaim such and such a week as being (fill-in-the-blank) week, and that’s all well and good, but some individuals always try to proclaim themselves as a self-proclaimed (fill-in-the-blank).

I guess you can call me a self-proclaimed human being, and that covers a lot of things.

As one of the many billions of human beings on this planet, I try to be kind to others and respect their opinions, no matter what side of the debate I find myself on.

I try and talk about issues, rather than individuals, and I shy away from turning up the volume to screeching levels heard on so many old rock and roll television shows.

It seems that some of us can’t resist hooting and hollering at the slightest perceived injustice, before telling the world that they’re a self-proclaimed something or other.

I guess that’s a self-defense mechanism to let everyone know where that individual stands – in case someone asks.

Maybe I’m wrong – I’m been mistaken many times in my life – but civil discourse is needed now more than ever, despite feelings that run hot or cold.

In election years, emotions can run at a fever pitch, and that’s understandable, but there’s no excuse for defaming anyone in print or on social media – or in person.

None of us is perfect, I find that out each day of my life, but I also discover friends I never knew existed before they came up to me and told me whom they were.

Friends are a blessing in this day and age, and I can use all the blessings I can get.

Doug Ford reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.

Doug Ford covers news and sports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.