Good Listeners May Change Their Thinking

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It’s been brought to my attention that some residents complain that The Suffield Observer is too liberal, that the paper doesn’t publish viewpoints other than those with a liberal slant. The editorial cartoons are too liberal and there is no voice for other viewpoints.

I find this point of view disheartening and limited. I spent many years at different colleges and universities during the late 60s and 70s. It was a time of strife in our country over the Vietnam War and civil rights. Protests, marches, political rallies were happening all over the country. Bob Dylan coined the phrase, “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” and we didn’t. War veterans were harassed, the Democratic convention was attacked, cities had civil and anti-war protests that often ended with fires and property damage. College campuses were ripped apart by protests and marches. Parents didn’t know how to talk to their hippie kids and vice versa.

Today I’m seeing history repeat itself, though Vietnam is no longer an issue, social justice is still an issue, civil rights are still not equal and people still have trouble talking to people of a different persuasion.

Recently the Journal Inquirer (JI) published an article titled, “Biden reminds us: Blessed are the Listeners.” The author, Keith Burris writes, “a great leader, need not be a great speechifier-indeed, Biden is not-but he has to be a great listener.” He goes on to say that Tom Brady (who I can’t stand since I’m a longtime Bills follower) “is not an eloquent speaker. . .but is undoubtedly a great leader. And the reason. . .he reads situations and people – he listens”.

I say to those people that think the paper is too liberal, write a letter to the editor, write articles, be a volunteer on the paper. I know that the Republican Party leadership in the past has been asked to be a guest editor. It doesn’t take as much time as you might think. If you think the paper is too liberal, here’s your chance to present your viewpoint. People will listen.

Last week I took a long walk with a friend who certainly has different political views than I do, but we have learned to respect one another because we listen. We don’t often change one another’s viewpoint, but we learn from one another, and we push the other to make sure we have done our homework.

I say to those who want to criticize, pick up a pen. You don’t need to have a monthly column, but present your views. Maybe there will be agreement on some of your points or maybe not at all, but that’s what we need to do, be good listeners. In closing, Mr. Burris quotes Frederick Buechner, a Christian theologian who says, “that in the ordinary but examined life, there are countless sacred messages.”  

Mel Chafetz
Co-editor of the Month

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