Diane Cazalet 

At this time in my life I am so concerned about my relationships, friends, and those people around me who share living here at High Prairie. Certainly, during a coronavirus pandemic I could not find a more beautiful area to “shelter in place” and avoid contracting the dreaded disease. However, I very much miss gathering with my friends, sharing stories, entertaining or potlucks where we can visit, laugh and enjoy each other’s company. My friendships within the High Prairie community have been positive, caring and mutually supportive. They’ve meant a great deal to me. 

So it really bothers me that those friendships are being damaged by the political polarization and division rife in our country. I am worried about how polarized our country has become politically and how divided we are in our beliefs. I have seen this happening for many years now, that people feel forced to take sides on issues that many believe to be black and white, right or wrong, left or right, ‘Us’ or ‘Them’. And often those decisions are based on incomplete, misconstrued, or faulty information; intentional misinformation; or sometimes even just plain lies. 

It scares me the way the political divide is threatening our democracy and weakening our nation. A democracy thrives on good information, open communication, compromise, and a recognition of the common good. If we are so polarized we can’t even talk to one another we certainly won’t be coming up with any solutions for making our lives better or for understanding where others are coming from. 

When I’ve tried to talk to friends about my concerns, the political divide has been a huge barrier between us. Despite the fact that most of us have many things in common and share the same values, have cared for each other and felt a bond with one another, we couldn’t discuss things. 

Why has the current political atmosphere become so ugly? Why can’t we talk or work things out with one another? Expressing my concerns in an invitation to open discussion is not an attack, and it shouldn’t make us instant enemies. Some say that there’s no value in discussion, because no one will change their minds. I refuse to believe this. Why wouldn’t we modify our opinions if we learn new facts or new information? 

No one has all the answers, but how can we begin to listen, learn and change some of our beliefs? There is certainly some middle ground to be found and I know we will all be so much better off if we can hear each other. Let’s start finding the things we agree are important and stop the threats, accusations, and insults to others. Let’s find ways to work with each other. We have so much to talk about, and voting is not our only role in this democracy. 

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