In today’s day and age, it often easy to see that our civic discourse has become much more harsh and adversarial in nature. This decline in respect and civility has troubled me greatly. Especially as it pertains to political discussions, which are at the core of a strong and robust society.
I have always believed that it is important to be informed and engaged as a citizen, whether one chooses to ever seek public office or not. Our role as active participants in our own governance requires that we should welcome a free and full exchange of ideas and perspectives, as we seek to solve shared problems, or to seize opportunities to improve our world.
Although, we may disagree on means and methods, or perhaps on core principles and philosophies, we need not become disagreeable or contemptuous with one another. If we do not see eye to eye on everything, this does not mean that we cannot seek out common ground on some things. There is no need to demonize people that disagree with us, when there is an opportunity to seek greater understanding.
I do not pretend that there are not deeply-held beliefs that will sometimes lead to fervent and passionate disagreements among groups and individuals. However, I do subscribe to the wisdom of the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, who said that, “A mind, once expanded by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”
It is in this spirit of celebrating our shared humanity, that I hold out the hope that we can continue to build a more civil discourse on the important issues of our time. If we have the courage and wisdom to talk with one another, instead of at each other or over each other, there is no limit to what we can achieve.
Dr. Stephen Covey put it beautifully, in his influential book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, when he wrote that we should “seek first to understand, and then to be understood.” While this is often easier said than done, it is a challenge that I hope we are up to accepting and committed to attaining.
I believe we will all be the better for it…and so will our society.
-Andy Ortiz, J.D., M.P.A. – President & CEO, Ortiz Leadership Systems, LLC.