By Janalee Stock
To my friends and fellow Athens County neighbors who are of a different party, I want to give you reassurance.
I have recently received a number of solicitations from the Republican party that have taken me by surprise. These letters stated that people like me (a Democrat) are bent on socialism, anarchy, infanticide. Scary stuff! So I want to assure you, your “blue” neighbors are not people to be feared.
We love our country, and as community members we do feel like we need to step up and offer a hand when someone is having troubles. Not a hand out, but a hand up. I know you as well are serving free lunches at your place of worship, you tithe, you volunteer for organizations, give directions to strangers, wave as you drive by on a country road, you donate blood.
I believe there are very few on the far left or right. The “by any means necessary” edict, while tempting when one feels passionate about one’s ideas, is not embraced by most any of us. You are not going to heed “stand down, stand by” (Trumps message to the white nationalist during the recent debate) ready with guns to turn on people who don’t agree or look like you.
In the past I have shared some of your values. However, since our country has accrued the biggest debt in the history of our nation under Republican leadership, fiscal stewardship may no longer be key to your platform. Respect for those who serve in the military, maybe doesn’t matter as much, since there is silence regarding your leader’s statements about “suckers and losers”.
Balancing the individual’s right to decisions about their own body, versus risks to society, makes sense to me too. So it’s hard for me to understand your push- back over wearing a mask to prevent the spread of a virus to those most vulnerable, when you’d like to see Roe v. Wade overturned ... a far deeper dive, beyond a face mask..into a woman’s womb.
I do understand the debate – when does life begin?
As a retired nurse I have seen those questions on the other end of the spectrum (death), and with the wonders of technology, those questions are complicated. I, like you, do believe life is precious, thus I wear a mask ... and for that matter believe the proven way to decrease abortions is comprehensive sex education.
The defunding of Planned Parenthood under GOP leadership makes no rational sense to me, when it has been proven that access to reproductive health care is the number one way to decrease abortions. And the fact is late stage abortions happen when a mother’s life is at stake...a mother who sometimes has children at home who need her, a mother who is precious too. It would be simpler if everything was just black and white, but life is far more nuanced. Red, White, and Blue makes together a purple, and I believe many of us are moving in that direction for the good of our country, agreeing to disagree on some issues, finding bridges that can reunite once again.
Our flag in front of our Athens County Dem office was torn down this week. People have come into the Democratic Office for weeks telling us their signs have been vandalized. Or stolen. I know better than to castigate your entire party over these actions. Please, remember we have lived peacefully side by side. Our country, our county need not go the way of hatred, bullying and division.
In the adage of the Golden Rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you, ” let’s respect each other’s property and not go the ugly way. Let’s learn some lessons from world history about what happens when name calling, and stoking the sparks of fear of the “other” becomes acceptable and admired. We all can do better than this. We may not agree on every issue, but I believe we all can agree that we want the ideals within the Pledge of Allegiance, “liberty and justice for all,” to prevail.