When one of our long-time commissioners told a fellow commissioner during a public session to “shut up,” it was not only unacceptable, but it left me wondering what has happened to us.
In fairness, it’s not just a Marion County problem, but rather it’s a problem throughout the country.
Yet this type of bitterness, mean-spirit and lack of respect for others is not normal, and it’s a far cry from being a healthy way to exchange ideas or dialogue with each other.
And, we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that this type of outburst is healthy, or worse yet, try to rationalize this lack of respect just because someone else thinks differently than we do.
We aren’t soldiers on the battlefield, we are just angry people who believe that victory is to the loudest or the most dramatic.
Instead of seeing ourselves as one community caught in a common struggle, we talk rather in terms of “we” and “them,” like warring factions. There’s no longer a common plural.
It should concern all of us when we can no longer have respectful conversations with each other.
What we’ve seen happen in commission meetings involving ways to save taxpayer dollars is that after a short time someone will have a different idea about something and from there it degenerates into name-calling and disrespect.
The idea of having empathy, understanding and compassion have become very selective and one-sided.
In other words, we listen to and respect only our own kind, depending on whether we are more liberal or conservative in our views.
Without compromise, by listening to both sides of an issue, there really isn’t room for meaningful talk.
The truth being defended by one or the other group is without end allowing no compromise, which leaves no room for meaningful talk.
At a time when there’s misunderstanding, anger, intolerance, impatience, and other factors paralyzing our communities it’s time to reground ourselves in some fundamentals.
Those fundamentals include respect, charity, understanding and gentleness towards those who oppose us.
In Marion County specifically, we need to accept that we are all in this together.
Taxpayers in Marion County are here because they want to be, and they have elected commissioners to represent them and serve their best interests.
When the commission itself breaks down, and brash remarks are made, how much trust can citizens have when these commissioners make a decision?
If one of the commissioners is so angry with another commissioner, how sure are we in believing all three will do the “right” thing for us.
Or will it be a “gotcha” in the face of the commissioner who was told to “shut up.”
It’s about time the insanity that goes on in our commission room stops.
One of my favorite writers talked about a famous billboard that hangs along a congested highway.
It reads: “You aren’t stuck in traffic. You are traffic!”
It’s an incredible bit of insight and so true when we see people distancing themselves from a problem.
Whether we are in a commission meeting, city council meeting, or dealing with any number of things that bring people together, make sure to think about the billboard.
When there’s so many people on the road, and we are irritated and impatient, it’s good to take a look in the rearview mirror and ask why are we on the road at that time.
As all of us carry on, it’s important to remember that there’s no “we,” and “them,” there’s only “us.”
We can have a dialogue with someone who has a different opinion than our own, and still maintain all the fundamentals.