Let’s try listening to each other | Our View
Last updated 2/8/2017 at Noon
We were heartened by an incident in downtown Edmonds on inauguration day when a group of anti-Trump protesters faced off against a few Trump supporters, both making use of their free speech rights. That people can exercise that important freedom is heartening enough, part of the fabric that does, indeed, make America great.
But what really cheered us was when some members of one group decided to cross the street and join members of the other group to demonstrate that, no matter what one’s opinion may be about our new president and his administration, we’re one country, indivisible.
Sondra Fay of Poulsbo, who initiated the détente, said, “I wanted both groups together to show the American spirit. We have the same desires to be safe and accepted in our communities.”
It has been 50 years since Americans have been so virulently divided. At that time, society was undergoing cataclysmic changes. The civil rights movement had been steadily growing. A draft was taking young men to fight and sometimes die in a tiny, far-off land. Women’s rights and gay rights were blooming. Violent demonstrations and harsh police responses were nightly fare on the national news.
Historians and people who lived through that period disagree to this day about those and other dramatic events. Is America stronger? Weaker? Wiser?
We seem to be on the verge of a new, perhaps equally convulsing period. Voters, fed up with politicians who seemed inept if not downright malevolent, were in the mood for someone who promised to shake up the status quo.
In just a few, short weeks, President Trump has cheered his base and scared nearly everyone else. Of course, it’s way too early to tell whether his approach will be successful, although early evidence isn’t promising.
But what’s most troubling to us is the tone of his approach, the “us vs. them” attitude that all but assures he won’t bring any sense of healing or hope to many of us.
Even supporters have to agree that Donald Trump is no role model. If you disagree with him you’re “a loser.” If the facts don’t fit his narrative, he’ll make up some “alternative facts.”
In Trump’s world, women are objects, refugees and immigrants from certain countries are likely terrorists, all Muslims can’t be trusted, “so-called” judges who rule against him are making America weak, and Putin, a murderous thug if ever there was one, is a “strong leader” because he says “great things” about our president.
How do you weed through this overflowing offal and focus on what’s important? How do you zero in on the new administration’s actions rather than the president’s Twitter twoddle?
For starters, we have to be willing to listen to each other. What those protesters in Edmonds did when they crossed the street and stood side-by-side with those they disagreed with was grown-up, mature, hopeful. When Americans are at their best, they’re receptive to different opinions, and willing to talk and listen with respect and an open mind.
Mr. Trump doesn’t make that easy. His blunt, insulting approach turns off many. It’s childish and unnecessary. Instead, let’s follow the example set in Edmonds.