The world now knows what we who have lived here a long time already understood.
Mars and Eastern Washington/North Idaho are much the same.
A few days ago NASA researchers announced the barren scablands west of Spokane and basalt outcroppings visible along the freeway through Eastern Washington and North Idaho are the close geographic examples of what the Pathfinder spacecraft has found on Mars.
The pictures beamed back from the red planet did look a bit like the view when driving west from Spokane. Snickering and guffawing can be heard in Seattle, Portland, and Boise about this revelation.
Those who live in the supposed centers of progress, prosperity and perfection have long thought of Eastern Washington/ North Idaho as a separate planet where people think and do odd things.
We are from Mars, they are from Venus.
The Venusians could recite a long list of Martian-like activities from our part of the world that they view as strange:
Eastern Washington turning Tom Foley out of office when he was speaker of the House and then worrying about the future of Fairchild Air Force Base and farm subsidies.
Coeur d’Alene downplaying the impact of white supremacists in North Idaho while trying to build a reputation nationally as a tourist destination.
Spokane voting down a free Pacific Science Center in Riverfront Park and then fretting about the lack of things to do with children.
Of course, from Mars we can look at Venus and marvel at some out-of-this-world activities.
Seattle knocking down the Kingdome and building a new football stadium for the Seahawks with public money at the request of one of the richest men in the world.
Oregon capping spending on schools while trying to build an economic base in Portland on the shoulders of high-tech companies that are begging for well-educated workers.
Boise razing its downtown in the name of economic progress only to spend 25 years now trying to build it back.
This Mars-Venus thing is nothing new.
Just as men and women can look at the same world and see it quite differently, so can cities and regions.
John Gray, the best-selling author of “Men Are From Mars, Women Are from Venus” already has written the book about the way men and women misunderstood one another and what it takes for the sexes to communicate.
What if Gray’s work were applied to the task of trying to understand Eastern Washington/North Idaho vs. Western Washington and Boise?
Here is what that book might discover.
Here on Mars we like to solve our own problems.
We don’t like it when Venusians offer free advice about fixing our economy, tell us what restaurants we need, or how we should conduct our politics.
We know what we are doing here on the Red Planet. Let us make our own way in our own way.
Also, here on Mars we want to feel needed, not ignored.
We know everybody on Earth cherishes Seattle, Portland and Boise as God’s gifts.
We don’t need to be cherished, fawned over, put on a princess pedestal. But we like to be needed now and then. Hey, we can fix things.
Didn’t we send the Seahawks the quarterback they needed in Coeur d’Alene High School and University of Idaho graduate John Friez?
Didn’t we provide the pivotal votes in the Washington Legislature that funded the Mariners baseball stadium and the expansion of Boise State?
Give us credit for doing our part, OK?
As Martians, we dream of a big gift every now and then.
We know you Venusians have become accustomed to lots of little (and not so little) goodies from legislators, developers and philanthropists.
Two new stadiums in Seattle, countless charitable donations from the Microsoft millionaires, new high-tech factories in Portland every few months, a new ice arena and new hotels in Boise. These are but a few of the love tokens recently enjoyed by Venusians.
Unlike residents of Venus West and Venus South, we would never expect a gift every few months to make us warm and happy.
But we crave a biggie every decade or so: a new state historical museum in Spokane, say, or funding for improving U.S. 95 between Boise and Coeur d’Alene and farther north.
Are you listening out there on Venus?
This is hard for us.
We from Mars don’t talk a lot about our feelings. We tend to brood in our cave as you babble on about the wonders of life on Venus.
Please try to understand us. We’re real people, too.
, DataTimes MEMO: Chris Peck is the Editor to The Spokesman-Review. His column appears each Sunday on Perspective.
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