Column by Mayor Rose-
It is not amusing that it takes children or young adults to point out our folly. In a Mountain Mail article titled “BLM hears comments on OTR” a Salida High School student, Mariah Mendicino, said she was “Saddened by lack of respect she has witnessed between supporters and opponents, she urged attendees to respect regardless of personal opinions.” First, know I am not immune. I see my weaknesses in the polarizing babble that we accept as dialogue. I can feel anger when someone is speaking in an insulting way towards me during what is supposed to be an exchange that might lead to an understanding. It is too easy for me to desire to strike back. What is obvious, when we watch these toxic diatribes in arenas we are not personally involved in, is that no one wins! The people who agree with you will pat each other on the back and say we won that one and the people who disagree, while probably using similar rhetoric, go away more angry than before. So, one side prevailed this time, but any sense of community is ripped apart, truly a worthless outcome for the greater good.
Stew Brown in a Mountain Mail letter to the editor wrote, (Do) “Not just stand back and constantly criticize current leadership. Working shoulder to shoulder, there’s nothing this county, state and country can’t accomplish”. It is not possible to work “shoulder to shoulder” with someone who treats you differently than they would desire to be treated. In how we choose to discuss issues we determine our ability to actually create something of which to be proud.
To facilitate a true discussion based upon real fact, not trumped up fears, I would like to compliment Merle Baranczyk when he denied the request for a moratorium on “Over the River” letters. It is not the media’s responsibility to demand the courtesy so necessary in our world while we converse through letters to the editor. It is ours. If you want to anger the opposition and further polarize everyone’s views continue to communicate in a way that disrespects those who hold a different view. If you want to put the long term good of the community first do unto others as you want others to do onto you. There is no excuse for discourtesy while disagreeing!
It is worth noting that many of my previous City of Salida, Mayor articles have quoted famous names in American history. It pleases me that I can quote local citizens that obviously understand their responsibilities as citizens of our democracy. It is the many small acts of true citizenship, which do not make the history books, that make this country great.
In the meantime, when I have had about enough of the negative and angry comments I stop and look up. In that moment, I realize how lucky I am to be alive at this time and this place. Chaffee County is God’s Country. I hope we act worthy of its grandeur.