They say that no one can tell us what life looks like after the pandemic. It is true, but this much I know: Life after the pandemic, and during the pandemic, will have its greatest potential if we learn how to talk to others with whom we do not agree.
The best solutions will come from a bipartisan effort where we merge our diverse values and find common solutions.
Hard to do, you say? Perhaps.
In considering the possibility, my mind goes to the concept of negotiation.
In the past, I have always been a soft negotiator. I have always privileged the relationship that I have with another and accommodated to make peace and find a resolution.
It does not work. Finding peace and resolution in a relationship that does not work for one of the parties is not a solution at all. Likewise, the hard negotiator that does not leave anything on the table does not find an equitable solution.
The only way through to resolution is for parties with differences to talk it out and find solutions that work for everyone.
That—finding solutions that nearly work for everyone—is what yields the most potential when we consider life after the pandemic or through the pandemic.
With this health crisis, we have seen that there are great gaps in our demographics and experiences. We are not in the same boat together. Some are much more prone to illness—due to economic circumstances, access to healthcare, access to open space, access to be able to quarantine in safety—than others.
We do not share the same stories. Yet, we do share, or may share, the same aspirations, perhaps: to live freely, to love and honor our heart’s desires and to protect that which we hold most dear.
With that, I am not telling you anything that you do not already know.
However, everyone has their own version of those aspirations. And it is in those particulars, however they might play out in our belief systems, that we battle against each other.
Harry Haas, a candidate for the District 8 Republican primary, told those gathered at a Reopen Wayne County demonstration in Central Park in Honesdale, PA on Saturday, May 23, that lefties “do not understand what it means to an American” and “certainly don’t represent people that come from Wayne County.” (Read more on page 4.)
He was undoubtedly taking a swipe at Rep. Matt Cartwright, whom he is hoping to go up against, if he wins the primary. While we might pass this off as campaign language—here one day, gone the next—Haas articulated the fundamental division. We do not agree with what it means to be an American.
Or maybe we do.
We are stuck in ideological camps. We are battling about what we hold dear, how we fund it and whether all varieties can exist in our society.
This is where we find ourselves.
But all is not lost. Our region is a whole lot more cohesive than this divide.
If you talk with local officials, like Gary Maas, the Republican supervisor of Cochecton, he will tell you that there is no political parties in the execution of town government. While we can never actually rid ourselves of our political biases, we have great potential to step aside our ideological divides in our rural landscape.
Is there a Republican or Democratic way to repair roads? Is there a Republican or Democratic lens through which to view feeding and taking care of our neighbors? Do you think that Rick Lander or Ned Lang, who sponsor Tusten Hope, which gives out bags of food to 50 families a week, actually know what party their recipients belong to?
I do not think so.
And still, we cannot talk to each other.
Spend some time on social media and it is clear there is no civil dialogue there.
But what about the traditional media? And most specifically, what about within the pages of the River Reporter? Is it possible to have a facilitated civic dialogue there?
We hope so.
In fact, that is how we see the role of the River Reporter and the foundation of its relevance. Can we create a forum where readers will participate in exploring through our ideological divides the important substance of our communal living?
We do not know. No one knows anything these days, right?
So, let the conversation begin—we can do this together.