Civil discourse, please

I read a vicious letter [“Democrat apocalypse!”] in the Waco newspaper this week. I was reminded of the fact that lies are easily spread because we somehow convince ourselves of their validity or because we don’t know how to calmly discuss the things we fear.

Ours is a nation born of compromise, one the Founders expected us to govern based on what was best for all — not just what was best for a few or for some exalted one. In some respects, that’s what Constitution Day this week was about. Consequently, we have become a more inclusive nation, ensuring women and people of color enjoy the liberties initially limited to white men of property. For this I am thankful. We must continue in that direction till all equally benefit.

Sadly, we have more recently become a nation of selfish individuals. Democracy cannot endure long with such thinking. We must sit down and talk quietly and calmly about our country. We must recover some of the statesmanship that once governed it. Tyrants cannot be allowed or anyone who even reeks of tyranny.

I can picture the nation I want to live in. I picture a nation that works like a great choir. Each individual has a voice and a part to share. Each individual has a note to sing in a certain tone, harmonizing with other voices, yet in its difference adding to the vibrancy and diversity. And when the choir director balances those tones, a beautiful thing happens.

More than 40 years ago, Romi Whitstruck told me “the tone makes the music.” That has been a guide for me in life. I believe we should speak softly and not attack those with whom we disagree. We must remember that we cannot hear when we are speaking or, worse, yelling. We must have a civil discussion about our problems and the dreams we have for our nation. We must demand, at the ballot box, a move back to statesmanship.

For most of my life, we had Bob Poage as our congressman (and, for what it’s worth, a Democrat). He had a saying: “You dance with the one that brung you.” He voted for whatever promised the most overall good for his community because he knew he eventually had to come home and explain his vote to constituents. He was our congressman for 42 years, so he must have been doing something right.

David Gray, Waco

Stepping out

So it is suggested that Robert Pearson’s shoeshine stand at Waco Regional Airport is maybe not “upholding the standards that represent the city in the best light.” Yet this 74-year-old shoeshine artisan met the standards of George Strait, Brooks and Dunn, Jessica Simpson, Brett Favre and other seemingly low-standard luminaries. Oh, well, we can always count on the airport baggage claim featuring a farm tractor with a leaking muffler and a guy slinging open a metal garage door to represent our city in the best light.

Steve McLaughlin, Waco

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