It was a brutal summer, no denying that.

You may think that, too, you who sit on the dais or around tables and hear yourselves criticized, even vilified by members of the community who simply do not see – or believe or even want to believe – that you believe you are doing your best.

And you – there in the audience, you who honed your barbs and metaphors and sat through the tedium of everyone else’s speech just so you could point out the obstinance of those whose salaries are funded by your tax dollars – are you feeling battle fatigue? Your frustration mounted as you found they did not agree with you till you finally believed that they just did not hear you. Louder and louder, angrier and angrier many of you spoke, until your medium threatened to blur your message.

But what about us?

We’re in there, too. We sit right in front of the dais and next to the lectern where residents make their comments. If we look up from our note-taking, we see eyes roll, and we can hear sighs and mutterings.

We are the media – not merely the press, but members of the organizations that have to make sense of what you say – all of you, all of it. We have to sift through the allegations and the accusations, the rant and the rhetoric, the excuses and the pretexts.

The odd thing may be this: We’re on both sides, on neither side, on your side. This is the job we signed up for, and we are for the most part excited and grateful to witness the messiness of democracy.

We try to be the lens, and it is sometimes quite an effort not to shift the camera from the issue to the fight.

So even if we don’t report it, it hurts when we see you reach for the quick and easy and slap a virtuous name on it, rather than take the slow and arduous road to the betterment of the community; when you gratuitously denigrate speakers and needlessly goad your peers; when you foment strife in the community; when you substitute personal attacks for substance; when you take credit for what others before you have done, pretending that you alone have discovered inequity and historic injustice in this community.

We appreciate the well-tempered argument, even if we personally disagree with it. We admire you when you present or discuss thorny issues with sensitivity. We are in awe of the democratic process as it plays out in Evanston, with people willing to put themselves passionately on the line – whether elected officials or community residents.

Like you, we get by with a little help. Even if we are not friends, we are allies.