Take a Step Back ... Now, Breathe In

RECEIVED Mon., Feb. 20, 2006

Dear Editor,
    Goodness gracious, people! I don't know where all this hatred is coming from, but I suggest we all take a step back, breathe, and count to 10. I reference Mr. Vance McDonald and Mr. Russell Kirkman, especially (“Postmarks,” Feb. 17).
    Issues of religion, war, and culture are deeply meaningful for all of us, we feel strongly about them and probably feel threatened if it seems the majority doesn't see the issue the way we do. However, I can think of no reason we can't discuss these issues reasonably and respectfully.
    I am a _____, _____, _____, _____ (fill in identifiers here), yet I have friends, acquaintances, and co-workers who aren't. Strangely enough, we are able to talk about a lot of the hot-button issues of the day and remain friendly. I respect them even when their positions differ from mine. Knock wood, the conversations have never degenerated into sarcasm and name-calling. Even though we support different solutions to our world's problems, we are all sincerely searching for solutions.
    This is what I feel many of us have lost sight of during our debates of emotionally charged issues. The people on the “other side” are people who, like us, are worried about the state of the world and are endeavoring to find solutions. That common ground alone should reinforce our respect for the person we're talking with and our interest in what they have to say. I'm not saying that you should invite Osama bin Laden to sit down for a cup of tea to discuss how we can bridge the chasm between the East and the West, but I am suggesting that you should do that with your neighbors, co-workers, and other letters-to-the-editor writers.
    We gain nothing by shouting at each other. Let's bring respectful, intelligent discourse back into fashion.
Sincerely,
Emily Schieffer
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