Striking up conversations

To the editor:

The 2018 Father’s Day flood was a traumatic event, as we all know. We’re used to challenging weather in the Copper Country, but this was something else. The water came down and down. Streets became raging rivers that then ran through houses. Houses moved across the road. Precious life was lost.

The flood recovery was slow and is ongoing. We were warmed by the helpfulness of neighbors and the helpfulness of the neighborly who came from far away. Somehow, it did not matter what the political opinions of the injured or the helping were. Our human spirit lifted us up to help, and the result was gratitude, repair, and kinship.

Now? Now the online (and in-person) comments sections fill up with negativity, accusations, and name calling.

What’s the difference between then and now? Well, the Father’s Day flood was not a political event. It affected nearly everyone and was caused by the weather. When bad luck strikes our neighbors, of course we want to help.

The things that divide us now are difficult to set aside. No, wait, they were easy to set aside after the flood, so that’s not the problem. How about this: in politics, unlike a natural disaster, we don’t always agree on what the problem is or, if we do agree, we don’t agree on what to do about it. We have different models in our minds of what needs fixing.

This is a tough nut to crack.

I hope we can build on our willingness to work together after the Father’s Day flood. Then, the helpers talked about what needed to be done and discussed how to do it. The discussions led to actions, actions on the things we agreed on. There were ideas raised in those flood-recovery discussions that we did not agree on. But we did not spend energy on those disagreements; instead, we did the things we agreed on.

I think there’s no shortage of things we agree on in our current difficulties. If we focus on identifying and doing the things we agree on, we’ll get something done. It starts with the discussions, which means avoiding finger pointing, name-calling, and point scoring. What do you think? If you think it’s worth a shot, the discussions you start, or that you participate in, can be part of the path forward.


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