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Home » Archives » March 2006 » The Kind Of Community I Would Like To Live In

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03/23/2006: "The Kind Of Community I Would Like To Live In"


Dear Editor:

A COMMUNITY OF CIVILITY
I used to read the Island Guardian much more frequently than I do now. I have found the voices there increasingly strident. Personal attacks, peevishness and pretentious humor are quite simply, mean spirited. Do you really want to live in a mean-spirited, polarized community, with neighbor against neighbor? Do we want an increasing spiral descending into a non-community of ugliness? I choose not to want that kind of community. Heck, that is a very easy place to go. I don't think it would be easy extricating ourselves from it. As I have read the vilifications, ill-disguised threats and the like that contribute only further polarization, I have thought, "Gee wouldn't it be easy to enter this mud-slinging spree?" I can enter this mud-slinging contest. Well, the only thing mud slinging producesis more mud. It sure doesn't produce light. But then, I reflect on it for some time and know I don't want to go there. I also know that really substantive writing takes time. That can contribute to a community of dialogue, a community of good will. It is never simply an emotional outburst on the key pad. I think a lot of the folks who write here are intelligent folks. Substantively, they can write seriously about issues. If we can back away from attacks on individuals long enough, we might find grounds for mutual concerns. This leads me to my second point.

A COMMUNITY OF MEMORY
I've had a very eclectic life. Both in the ministry and in years of business I dealt with a lot of folks of many political stripes. Reflecting back over 73 years I have found it interesting that as much as I loved working with them, it wasn't the liberals I struggled for so long with on behalf of early childhood education, nor the liberals who struggled against the Nam War, whom I most remember. It is the conservatives with whom in an atmosphere of mutual openness and kindness, I shared a mutual affection. That we couldn't agree on the time of day was irrelevant. Can we muster enough adulthood, to say, I want to be remembered, not for tearing down, but for building up a community of decency, respect, kindness and good will? Do I want my epitaph to read an ill-tempered-"Take that!" Or do I want it to read, "He helped to build our sense of community."? You see, each of us tells a story. What kind of story will we leave behind? Good memories, not bad taste, help build a community. Perhaps, just perhaps, we can all be remembered for the time we came together to preserve the quality of life we moved here to have.

A COMMUNITY OF COMMONS
Agree or disagree, we do share some common ground. I believe that we share a common fate and what that fate is depends a whole lot on the commons-the water we drink and the air we breathe, for starters. Unless someone has a private source I don't know about, for all of our arguing, we do have to share these. Will there be enough of it and what quality will they be? There are a lot of issues I could find in common with all folks. On some issues we will never find common ground. But self-imposed ground rules of staying strictly on substance will foster a dialogue that the community, now at a major crossheads, is in dire need of having. Don't chase those you assume disagree with you out of the discussion. We may all find there are a number of folks in our community who agree on some issues that have been raised in the Guardian. Finally, I want to thank to Jack Cory. I have known Jack for 10 years. I respect his knowledge and concern about County issues. And I respect him. And I really want this paper to succeed.



Sincerely,

Ron Keeshan
San Juan Island


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