This morning and I had quite an AH HA moment. The other night I had the pleasure of meeting a nice couple that was relatives of friends we know. The lady and I got into a political discussion. As she was of the “other” persuasion than I am, I was concerned when we started to talk that this discussion would turn vicious and nasty. My experience was much to the contrary. We discussed a number of beliefs that were opposite, but also quite a few that were similar. I have wanted to do this for a long time because in my heart I believe we’re all Americans and want what’s best for others and us. I’ve tried writing many articles to the newspaper with questions to try to get a dialog going so I could understand the different thought processes or “programming” of others but many times were met with hateful responses or ridicule for my articles, nothing debatable.

Here are a couple examples of what I see happening that’s got to stop. We’ve got to stop programming people that “America is systemically racist” or “white supremacy is the biggest threat to our country” or that “all white people are domestic terrorists”. We’ve got to stop going backwards and trying to reinstate segregation. Is our WHOLE country racist or are some people IN our country racist? Yes, we might have some problems with racism in this country but I believe, and have watched as a whole, people over the last 50 years try to be more accepting of all races. Education heals racism in time, not dividing people into oppressors or oppressed, or justifying stealing and looting from the people you think are being racist or beating up and killing them! Those actions beget deeper hatred and vengeance and make a larger gorge for people to jump over and come together. For those people who think our country is so awful, please find a place you like and GO, the rest of us LOVE our country and want to work to make it better. On racism, I once heard someone say one of the first steps to healing racism is to stop calling people separate names like Black, Chinese, Indian, etc., just call them Americans! After all how many people are “pure bred” anything? If we’re learning anything from all the DNA testing, we’re finding people are more “mixed” then they’ve ever been. Most people have different beliefs based upon their upbringing not necessarily their race. People in the bigger cities have different beliefs than people in the smaller rural communities. Does it make the ideas people have coming from the suburbs wrong? No, just different. That’s why it would be wrong to get rid of the electoral college because we all have to figure out a way to run a country together when it’s tremendously diverse, not discount certain people’s opinions because they’re not like yours.

Another talking point that gets people’s dander up is thinking all the people on one side or another are stupid. We are a product of the information we get. For instance I’ve encountered “you get all your news from FOX”. My answer to that is “I don’t even watch FOX” but my feelings are you’re trying to tell me and other people that their news sources are ALL bad and yours are ALL good. That can’t be further from the truth, believe me, I watch the other side. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were allowed to make our own decisions on news rather than having to get our “beliefs” from an opinionated news source? They should give us both sides. Someone should start a news source that has an even number of Democrats, Republicans and

Independents that give “the truthful news” instead of the opinions that the news media or political party tells each broadcaster to give. And to watch newscasters ridicule and laugh AT the other side right on the TV is awful. We were ALL taught more manners than that! Don’t buy into their programming of your hatred. Going back to teaching and educating a population, what do you think you’re teaching people who watch a news caster who’s laughing AT them? Hatred, anger? Year’s ago I remember reading; “seek first to understand before being understood”. Maybe we should encourage our newscasters to venture out into this WHOLE country to understand why people’s beliefs are so diverse and share some of that diversity instead of only choosing guests on these news shows that follow one opinion or laughing and ridiculing those that don’t agree. Wouldn’t that be novel? Maybe we should start the trend of seeking to understand others first by watching or reading the “other” side. You might not agree with everything but you might be enlightened after you get through the hateful statements, that there’s more to each subject than one side!

My AH HA moment was…if we as friends, neighbors and community couldn’t come together and talk about our differences civilly, how could we ever expect our leaders to do it? It has to start somewhere and some time. Let it be NOW! Anyone in our community willing to come together and find common ground in our political framework, then pass on our results to others? I’d be happy to start if anyone wants to meet up.

Dee Gustafson 

Driggs