Our neighbors aren’t evil, ignorant, or hateful. Just diverse.
A recent letter talked about what is necessary for a functioning democracy. The most important thing for a functioning democracy is an understanding of the common values that we’re working together on, so we can leverage them to strengthen our community and its institutions. If we lack that, the trust that fuels community well-being falls apart and we end up with divided new media, divided social media and divided politics that don’t work for anyone.
Dialogue in our community has gradually devolved. Whether it is dismissing those who have different ideas on taxation, health care, immigration, transportation or just an ideological identity, our community seems to be looking less and less for reasons to work together and more for reasons to divide and attack.
We value free speech because we have faith that when we bring diverse voices to the table — often challenging popular assumptions — the best solutions win hearts and minds. Our neighbors who have different views aren’t going away.
So how can we work together to build an inclusive environment and have constructive dialogue? I propose we focus on values such as these:
We value safety and want everyone to feel secure from violence in their homes and in our streets.
We value building a better world for our children, from teaching them our cultural values, to having choices in education that meet their needs, to making sure the blessings we enjoy today are passed down to them.
None of us celebrates homelessness, addiction or other ill circumstances befalling those in our community. We want to see everyone be able to provide for themselves and their families with dignity.
We value empowering individuals to achieve their hopes and dreams and to choose what causes their work goes toward whether personal, commercial, charitable or political.
We value fairness and equality, that where others get a voice, we get a voice too. And we want that voice to be as influential as possible in bettering our circumstances.
Often we not only forget that others have similar values, but we forget entirely about these values and just get obsessed with pushing for/against an idea or person. For those of us who work on a team on the job, we understand people on a team can agree or disagree about the plan, but at the end of the day, working on the same values is what leads to the best accomplishments. Remember that we in Kirkland are on the same team, working together to solve the challenges in our community. I challenge you, when you start to think badly of your neighbors, ask yourself and others: How can we focus on our common values and work together for them?