On Memorial Day, we pause to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation. These brave men and women answered the call and fought side by side to protect all Americans’ right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Our country’s leaders deemed this an important and solemn occasion, one that was commemorated as a national holiday. It is only right that we stop and reflect on the brave heroes who laid down their lives so we could live in diverse communities; speak, work, worship and live according to our own personal values.Yet we only need look around or attend a function where people of differing views are gathered to know that there is a spirit of animosity toward one another arising in our nation.
Living on Whidbey Island does not protect us from the incivility and polarization that has been rising for decades. However, we do share a special bond as islanders and have fostered a tradition of neighborliness. We are farmers, sailors, parents, artists, fishermen and retirees, who share a long narrow rock in Puget Sound. We all look up when an eagle flies over and smile at the beauty of the mountains when they are out. We pull over to let first responders quickly pass by. We volunteer for organizations that help our neighbors like Hearts & Hammers, and we donate food to local food banks like Help House or Good Cheer.
While we are not in imminent danger of being overtaken from without, we are in danger of imploding from within if we do not step back from the rancor, disrespect and demonization that is currently eroding our national sense of unity. We need to reach out to each other with civility.
Civility does not mean being passive. In fact, the health of our nation is dependent on our speaking up for what we believe. We can, however, choose to speak without meanness. We can resist the temptation to be closed-minded and, rather, really listen with open hearts, to those with whom we disagree. Hearing each others’ stories helps us to both understand concerns and find ways to work together.
So, on this Memorial Day weekend, may we honor the memories of those who died protecting our freedom by remembering we are all Americans, we are in this together. What unites us is stronger and more important that what divides us. Whether we identify as conservative, moderate, progressive or non-political let us put that honor into action by reaching across the various divides as neighbors who recognize our shared humanity.
Civility First … So We Can Work Together
President Cathy Whitmire, Clinton
Sandi Peterson, vice president, Oak Harbor