Living Up to the Promise

(This is a GUEST POST written by Greg Travalio, a friend since 1956; the featured image is of Greg at a stop on his way to the base camp of Mount Everest in Nepal.)

Took a long motorcycle ride yesterday, probably my last ride of the season. Went through city, town, and country. Lots of Trump and Biden signs still up. Knew a few of the people, most I did not of course. But let me tell you something I’m sure of: few of the people with Biden signs are raving socialists, they don’t want to eliminate the police, and they do not want to confiscate your guns. And, I am similarly sure that few of the people with the Trump signs are racists and are bent on destroying the environment. Disagree all you want, and frankly if you do, I think you’re part of the problem.

After more than 40 years in Ohio, I know these people and I am absolutely positive that most of them are good people, good neighbors, good citizens. There is more room than many are willing to imagine for dialogue, for discussion, for the patient and honest exchange of ideas.

Stop the vitriol, the name-calling, the promulgation of fake facts, and baseless opinions. Turn off Fox News and MSNBC. If you’re a conservative, read the New Republic once in a while; if you’re a liberal, read National Review occasionally. If you’re sure you’re right, ask yourself why you’re so damn sure when half the population disagrees with you. I guarantee there’s more to it than the slogans and sound bites we love so much, or the easy answers uninformed by facts or thought. It’s so easy to be arrogant and self-righteous; so hard to be uncertain and skeptical.

My motorcycle ride was through beautiful country on a magnificent day. It made me think about how much more unites us than divides us even in these unparalleled times. Much of what we disagree about are means not ends, and the right means to an agreed end is often not clear. Even when our disagreements are more fundamental, it never hurts, and almost always helps, to discuss them patiently and rationally informed by facts. Being talked to elicits dialogue, being talked at breeds only resentment.

Sorry for the long rant, but I love this country. I want it to live up to its promise. I spent 30 years of active and reserve service to it and would do it all over again. We will, of course, never always agree with each other, and frankly that would be horribly boring. But we can agree to give those with whom with disagree the presumption of good faith. We can agree that we will listen, and listen sincerely before jumping to conclusions. We can agree that most of us want a free and caring country, that we want a good life for our families, our friends, and our fellow countrymen. There are real and dangerous enemies out there; please don’t make enemies of each other.

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(The featured image is the property of Gregory Travalio and is being used with permission.)

Please consider visiting Jeff Lee Byrem Creations to discover additional literary endeavors such as the novels of the Myers/Benton Chronicles