OUR POSITION: A kinder, gentler civil discourse needed.^p
A week after pipe bombs were sent by a deranged Floridian to 14 high-profile Democrats, and days after a hate-filled gunman killed 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue, we received a letter to the editor that struck us as particularly thoughtful and apt.
It was from R. Earl Warren, a longtime lawyer whose offices are on West Dearborn Street in Englewood.
Earl and his wife, Sylvia, are well-known, politically active conservatives. Both were involved in the local tea party movement, which was strong in this region, and both have been supporters of President Trump. They are among our core of regular letter-writers.
We haven’t always agreed with Earl Warren’s politics, but do respect and appreciate his ability to articulate his positions with probity and civility. We found his latest email, received Tuesday morning, to be a stand-out.
And so we share it today in this space. It both explains succinctly the president’s appeal to so many of our readers and offers prescriptions for a more-civil discourse in our splintered society and our shared community.
The letter, as follows:
“I hear and read a lot about President Trump ‘setting the tone’ for our nation. But I wonder, since we are a nation of, by and for the people, should we not set the tone and then demand it from our leaders?
“President Trump was elected by an angry and determined middle class that had been used, abused and forgotten. We wanted and needed a fighter, someone who liked and respected us and who knew how to fix things. We chose him, understanding his imperfections as well as his strengths.
“We are the backbone of America. The early-to-rise, late-to-bed, hardworking, family people. We take care of our own business and often suffer in silence. For the first time in many years we saw a leader who would represent us.
“There is enough incivility to go around and it didn’t start, nor will it end with one person or one party. Both sides can point a finger at numerous examples of poorly chosen or downright nasty remarks. You and I can only control ourselves, so that is what we should do.
“Don’t rise to the bait at email postings. Don’t engage in arguments, political or otherwise with family and friends. Listen to others. Listening doesn’t constitute agreement and often is all that is needed.
“We can also exercise our vote to bring people on board who play well with others. United we stand, divided we fall. Those are not just words, they are a philosophy to which we should all aspire.”
R. Earl Warren
In recent weeks, the members of this newspaper’s Editorial Board have discussed whether to adjust our letters to the editor policy in an attempt to dial back the nastiness. Considering the harsh tone, the vitriol, the tweets and name-calling coming from the chief executive of the nation, it seemed a bit much to ask of everyday citizens.
But no. We can try to be better than that. And we will.
So no more “idiots” and the like. We will be more hands-on with editing. This is a subjective judgment, so we may disagree about the result. But, following Earl Warren’s suggestion, we will attempt to turn the dial more toward civility. We can do better.