Getting to calm: Let’s start with thoughtful discourse | Editorial

With the start of a new year, The Beachcomber would like to suggest a community-wide resolution that we hope many of us could embrace — a commitment to engage in thoughtful and respectful discourse.

There have been plenty of moments over the last year when such discourse seemed to elude us. The meetings at the Vashon Park District are a striking case in point; the debate over Vashon Allied Arts’ performing arts center has also occasionally crossed that line in some people’s minds.

Even here, a bucolic island populated by people seeking a more peaceful way of life, we often find it easier to point fingers and raise our voices than to truly listen and calmly respond.

The issue seems particularly relevant right now, as the country once again finds itself embroiled in a highly charged debate — the question of gun control in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., massacre.

Though the tragedy took place 3,000 miles away, it has struck a chord on Vashon, and islanders are beginning to respond. Indeed, in this week’s paper alone, we have two letters to the editor defending gun ownership, a notice in the calendar about a new group forming to address gun violence and an article about an islander who used a powerful social media site to try to launch a national dialogue about the issue.

Islanders have held a vigil, participated in a nationwide 27-minute walk and undertaken other actions to highlight the issue.

At The Beachcomber, we’ve editorialized strongly in favor of gun control in recent weeks and have been critical of the National Rifle Organization, a group that we believe has strayed far from its roots as an organization that supports hunters. At the same time, we want our pages to be a forum for open and civil discussion, a place where we can explore the issue calmly and rationally and where we can steer clear of the histrionics, name-calling and emotion that often mark this debate.

A Facebook page was recently created calling for Americans to honor the 27 people who were killed in Connecticut by committing to 27 acts of kindness over the course of this new year. That seems like a good place to start on Vashon, a wonderful community that — like the rest of the country — is sometimes riven by ideological differences and emotional reactions.

This is not to say we shouldn’t debate the issues. But let’s see if we can do so respectfully. Another article in this week’s paper discusses a book for parents of teens, called “Getting to Calm.” If the best way to address the turbulence of adolescence is with a calm response, maybe it’s the best way to respond to one another in the midst of some important and thorny debates.


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