By Mark Albrecht, Stevensville
Any regular reader of the Star’s letters section is no stranger to political rants from both ends of the spectrum. As these diatribes seem to have escalated lately, one not familiar with our community might think a wall needs to be built in the Bitterroot to separate the left from the right. And while some might prefer that option, I believe there’s a silent majority of us who live and work in relative harmony and find plenty to agree on. Here are some examples.
Government programs, such as our military, public schools, fire departments, police forces, and highway departments, are all social programs. Yes, even our military is socialized. Most of us agree that pooling our resources according to our ability in order to fund programs that benefit our community is a good thing. We also agree that going into debt to pay for things we don’t need is not a good thing.
Many in our community hunt for recreation and own firearms for personal protection. That doesn’t make us all second amendment nutjobs. We may not agree on the best way to prevent deadly school shootings, but we all agree that we want the schools our children attend to be safe.
Some in our community are not religious at all, while others have deeply held religious beliefs. We are all afforded the right to believe and worship or not worship how we choose. Most of our beliefs are inherited from our upbringing, and since none of us chose where we were born or who raised us, we agree that we should be respectful of the entire spectrum of religious belief and that believing or not believing one way or another does not make anyone better or worse than anyone else.
The Sapphire and Bitterroot ranges and the Bitterroot River and its tributaries are the treasure of our community. Our local economy and collective happiness rely on harvesting timber responsibly, keeping the river clean, and maintaining access to our public land. We agree that pragmatic management of our public lands is essential to our community.
While there are many other topics worth discussing, my point is this: nobody ever changed my mind by pointing out how stupid I am. Instead of engaging in name calling, self-aggrandizing intellectual boasts, and ad hominem attacks, when topics come up that affect our community and government, let’s seek the 80% that we all agree on and focus on that. Who knows, by finding common ground first and talking about the challenges of seeking a balanced approach, little by little, you might provide the perspective needed for someone else to change their own mind.