Letter to the editor: Recent online vitriol has left me deeply dismayed

Reverend Frances McWilliams
Summit Colorado Interfaith Council


While looking online for an article on the Social Equity Commission in Breckenridge, I discovered a thread of emails that left me deeply dismayed. The vitriol was equally intense on each side in this exchange of insults, stereotypes and attempts at character assassination. Vilifying those with whom we disagree creates barriers and widens divides. Social media makes it easy to say anything and evade accountability.

The Summit Interfaith Council suggests a different way. We believe that relationship is the foundation on which trust is built. If we develop openness and listening skills, then we can understand what another is really saying. If we disagree, we can respect the differences, as has been true in our democracy from its inception. For those 60% of Americans who are truly interested in discussing issues, learning is possible.

In his book “Healing the Heart of Democracy,” Parker Palmer identifies five “habits of the heart” which move us toward healing: “We must understand that we are all in this together” so our valuation of individualism does not blind us to our dependence on others and the richness in diversity, “we must develop an appreciation of the value of ‘otherness’” so our fears of difference do not keep us from curiosity rather than judgment, “we must cultivate the ability to hold tension in life-giving ways” so our common humanity and love of country can be bases for policy, “we must generate a sense of personal voice and agency” and “we must strengthen our capacity to create community” so we are a part of the solution.

This is work for all of us: to cross divides between people and build community. We offer programs like The People’s Supper, Unsheltered in Summit, Thanksgiving To-Go, and film and book groups that target human need. Will you join us?





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