To the Editor:
I am writing in response to a recent letter submitted to the paper entitled “Seeing Red.” To my way of thinking, that letter serves as a great example of exactly what is wrong with this divided country of ours. Every issue is polarized and full of blame and hostility. Every cause is ideological, partisan and uncompromising. And every solution is rigid and unyielding.
Are we that red or blue that we can’t see the middle at all anymore?
Does red and blue never make purple? The problem that confronts us is like the iceberg that took down the Titanic. If we continue to see our enemies as those who view things differently than ourselves, we will miss the real wolves at the door.
As in all of history, we have real enemies who wish to do us great harm, like North Korea and Russia. We face much more danger at the hands of Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin than we do from immigrants or refugees. Effective government within our land is far more important than building a wall around it.
Most Americans do not hold extreme values or ideologies. We may have different ethnicity or hold different views of what we believe to be right and wrong, but we are not so extreme in those principles that we cannot tolerate the views of others.
Our country has successfully maneuvered a 200-plus year history of functioning within a system where there are two sides of preference in terms of how to best manage our unique system of self governance. Since the beginning, Americans have balanced those two sides and figured out to live together in one nation. In that endeavor, there has been nothing more important than compromise, and nothing is more threatening to our system of government than refusing to compromise.
The reasons our politics are so polarized are numerous and convoluted. None of us have all the answers. Perhaps it’s the way in which we conduct our elections; the endless fundraising and money in politics. Or maybe it’s the many contentious social issues that divide our country or the downturn and slow recovery from the recession.
Whatever you choose to blame for the problems we face, extreme partisanship is the most obvious offender in preventing us from solving them. Just because Donald Trump managed to seize the presidency doesn’t mean America has turned into a red nation. And Trump alone cannot deliver us into prosperity and security. In order to do that, it will take the whole village, red and blue.
I have worked in the field of human services for 30 years as has the writer of “Seeing Red.” I see a bit more blue than she does. But that should not prevent us from working together with respect and compromise for our differing views toward a single goal.
Progress will never come if we remain rigid in our own ideology. Progress will come when we turn the kaleidoscope and allow the colors not only to collide but to intertwine.
Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Ginsburg were best friends. They seldom if ever agreed on anything regarding the court and the decisions they rendered on a daily basis. But there was no personal element to their disagreements – no judgment of who they were as people.
Maybe we should take a lesson from them. We can keep fighting at our own peril, or we can resolve to move forward, seeing one another and the times in which we live with less hostility and anger and with more respect and common sense.