I had never met Dave Eller in person, despite that I’ve been writing a column for this paper since — actually I lost count, but my guess would be since the early 2000s – when Judy Wilson was the editor. I’ve written about everything under the sun – except the thing I am most passionate about — politics. Pretty nearly early on, it was clear that my political beliefs were at the opposite pole from Mr. Eller’s and I was very politely asked to zip it up on the subject – which presented me with two options: to zip it up and write about other “stuff” – or to walk away on my “high horse” telling myself that I was standing up for my “principles.’ But—what WAS my most basic principle?
In truth it didn’t take long for me to come up with an answer, and the main belief that I had in common with Mr. Eller was that it is a good thing that we live in a capitalist society – and that citizens still had the freedom of choice. He owned the newspaper and had the right to set the rules. I was free to stay on his terms or go. I respected his wishes and stayed. I was free to express my opinions in other venues.
And in reading his obituary this past week, I was privileged to meet the human being who was more than his politics and who was such a positive and important influence on his community. This got me to thinking – continue thinking –how important it is for us, in this era of such turmoil, distrust, and insidious vituperation on both sides – to cool it, to listen to opposing views as they are expressed with the same sincerity and passion as my own views and to respect our differences, without inserting the element of hatred. It is the “hatred” that is poisoning us.
We’re living in a cement mixer of societal changes and daily, we are witnessing major differences between what is acceptable today – and what was “then.” Some of it will be seen as good and some as bad – and even within that framework people will differ. And I so much believe that it is our differences that make us strong, and innovative, and creative as a society. A monolithic belief system creates a staleness that leads to decay. It is no accident that we are not a planet of clones.
And so, as the “Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Man” season descends once again, it is the last part of that prayer that we need especially to heed, before the first part will ever become a reality i.e. “good will” especially, towards the humans with whom we have what seem to be incompatible belief systems. We need to understand that people aren’t all one thing, Let’s look for other qualities that make up their character, qualities we can admire and respect.
I send my deepest condolences to the Eller and Observer family and my everlasting hope for
“GOOD WILL TOWARDS MAN”. and that includes a heartfelt Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza and good Holiday time to all.