I am writing in response to Don Erikson’s essay on last week’s Open Mic page, in which he advocates finding common ground as well as avoiding topics of race and politics to better get along with those who disagree with us. Although I find his sentiment laudable and well-intentioned, I believe it to be ultimately harmful and wrong.
First, the left and right are NOT equally at fault for the current division in our country, as Mr. Erikson implies. There is no radical left; there is a socially responsible left that crusades for the needs and welfare of all people and the environment. However, there is a radical right, manifested in an increasingly nationalistic, white supremacist Evangelical Christian movement with the GOP that is steadily moving toward fascism and is gaining power and political influence.
We have a national affinity for comfort and convenience. Hence, many liberals are reluctant to stand up to the various outrages we are witnessing from the right. We are cautioned against “making things worse” and to wait for the “right time” to make changes (BTW, when is the right time??). It’s so much easier to avoid conflict and find common ground that upsets no one. This is a doubly seductive stance because not only is it comfortable but seems so much more evolved and enlightened than the messiness of conflict. Glossing over the pressing and critical issues that confront us is actually facilitating evil under the guise of getting along that neatly fits into our comfort zone.
I do not disparage Mr. Erikson or those sharing his view, which is commendable yet flawed. Compromises made by the left will not be reciprocated by the right.
This is a time to defend the principles we profess to believe in, which include calling out and fighting against that which is harmful to our people and environment. In the words of the late, great John Lewis: “Get in good trouble!” Let’s make things better and not be afraid of the trouble that is an inevitable part of the struggle for what is right—our country deserves it.
Christopher Newhard lives in Cazadero.