LETTER TO THE EDITOR: We need to listen to other people, not demonize them

We need to listen to other people’s views, not demonize them

The comments expressed in a letter to the editor in last Saturday’s SNAP were so disturbing that I felt compelled to respond.

Not only were the comments inaccurate and unsubstantiated, they were characterized by a mean-spiritedness which perfectly illustrates the poisonous divisiveness that unfortunately exists these days in our political and civic environment.

Our democracy depends on lively civic discussion, and when that degenerates into shouting matches and demonizing of opponents’ views, it is democracy itself that suffers.

Democracy also suffers when facts and evidence no longer matter.

We have a duty to hold our elected leaders accountable to us — the citizens — for their words and actions. I hold suspect any politician — Republican, Democrat, Green or Purple — who relies on lies and fear-mongering to sway voters and get elected to office.

Rather, I want to hear solid, creative ideas for the solutions to the serious challenges we’re facing in our country. We as citizens must stop repeating inflammatory comments and engage in thoughtful, respectful civic discourse.

I’m glad we have the SNAP as an important community forum to share our views regarding issues of the day, but those who read the publication are our neighbors, and before hitting the send button, we should remember how the tone of our letter might be received by others — especially those with different views.

During this season, many of us are celebrating the life of an individual who was born in poverty in an occupied land. He and his family became refugees themselves when their lives were endangered by a tyrant who felt threatened by what he represented.

Maybe we need to follow more closely the example of this individual and learn to get out of the comfort zones of our echo chambers and really listen to each other in love — especially to those who are different from us or who hold different political views.

Once we start listening, we might even learn to respect — even celebrate — those differences.

Anne Lipe