Sound off 11-8-18

BY JOHN STARCHER, MARBLEHEAD VILLAGE COUNCIL PRESIDENT

This has been an extremely busy year in our little village. I have enjoyed watching all the progress! Most of you have seen, and are enjoying (as I am) our newly paved Alexander Pike, although I still find myself automatically wanting to swerve to the left to avoid the northernmost set of potholes. That’s a habit that will take a while to lose, I suppose.

We are grateful to you all for your patience while we put together the funding for this project. It will look amazing in the spring when the final top coat is applied. In the meantime, enjoy a bump-free ride – I know I am!

Ok, now on to the serious stuff:
• “The political divide is growing. And hate is turning into violence. Enough is enough.” – theSkimm 10/29/18
• In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” – Robert Frost
• “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.” – ibid

It is with trepidation that I turn on the news anymore. Every day there are more and more stories of hate, divisiveness, questionable ethics of our elected officials, partisanship, and now, domestic terrorism, and that’s just in OUR country. It’s overwhelming. It fills my social media feeds to the point where I no longer enjoy them. I miss the days when Facebook and Twitter were a tool to keep in touch with loved ones and enjoy the occasional cat video.

Anyone who knows me is aware of my personal political beliefs, and I learned the hard way that sharing those beliefs on social media will bring nothing good, especially to someone in my position as a business owner and elected official. So, I keep my mouth shut for the most part.

I realized that nothing I say on Facebook is going to change anyone’s mind or alter their existing belief structure. That’s really the wrong place to have those kinds of discussions anyway. I have found that I can have a one-on-one discussion with people whose political beliefs are different than mine, and we can almost always find a common ground. We won’t necessarily agree on a lot of specifics, but we seem to be able to agree on concepts, just not how to implement the ideas to accomplish them.

This gives me hope.

I have to disagree a bit with Mr. Frost in the above quote. The word “education” is ok, but I would prefer to substitute it with “Intelligence,” or “compassion,” “level-headedness,” or even “empathy.” We need to find a way to overcome our differences in our beliefs and come back together as a country. If we cannot do that, then I truly fear for our future as a democratic republic. I don’t have all the answers, and there are people out there a whole lot smarter than me who don’t seem to either. I do know we cannot keep going down the path we are currently on.

At one time, I blamed human greed for the situation we find ourselves in. I now believe it is a fairly large component, but not the only thing. Fear is the other one. The big one.

We fear those who don’t look like us. We fear those who don’t sound like us. We fear those who don’t celebrate the same holidays we do. We fear those who are “gender fluid,” or those who are attracted to someone of the same gender.We fear those who worship differently. We fear those who don’t think like us.

When did we become so afraid? And why? The United States of America has always been a melting pot of different races, creeds, and religions.

Our current elected officials, for the most part, are doing nothing to ease these fears. I might argue that many of them are doing the opposite, fanning the flames of divisiveness. To what end? Political gain? If so, then shame on them.

Personal financial gain? We need leaders who will heal the divide and bring our nation back together, rather than people who will seek personal gain at our nation’s expense. There is blame on both sides of the political aisle, and my intention here is not to call out one side or the other. We need to start placing priority on our country rather than our political party.

The essence of a successful negotiation is both sides being unhappy with the end result. That means both sides were willing to concede something in order to attain a common beneficial outcome.

Can we strive to reach this level? I think we can. Let’s get the money out of politics to start with, and I’d be willing to bet 90% of the problem goes away immediately. Eliminate the Super PACs, limit campaign donations, and while we’re at it, let’s make mud-slinging political ads unacceptable. Let’s put people in office who are genuinely wanting to serve our nation, not enhance their bank account. Let’s make it impossible for them to become lobbyists when their political career ends, too.

I have friends who have told me they don’t pay attention to national politics, focusing on their lives and local issues. While I can understand their motivation, I think we all need to pay attention to what our elected officials are doing, at all levels of government. If we decide they are not doing the job we hired them to do, replace them with someone who will. From the highest level of office all the way down to your local elected officials, like me. It starts at the local level and continues upward from there. I sincerely hope you exercised your right to vote this past election day.

I really am hopeful that this will all be a dark chapter in the history books that we can one day look back on and say, “We’re never going to be like that again.”

My heart swelled on October 20 as I watched an entire community come together to raise money for a young girl with a rare medical condition. No one asked who her parents were voting for, and I know for a fact that there were conservatives and liberals together in the building that day, all striving to attain a common goal of helping a child in need. We will never agree on everything, and that’s ok. We can ALL agree, though, that we need to work together to make this nation, and this planet, a better place for all of us.

Our children’s futures depend on it. Who’s with me?

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