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Let’s talk war

War with Iraq is weighing heavily on all our minds right now. Everyone has opinions, but I suspect nearly all of us also have doubts, concerns, fears, questions.

My sense is that the vast majority of us have reservations about either going to war or not going to war; we’re conflicted. We feel pigeonholed when we’re told that the American people feel this way or that, and sidelined when the media stage soundbite scrimmages between hawks and doves.

What we really crave at this time is a chance to speak candidly about our concerns, ask questions, hear what other people think and, above all, connect with others.

Next Monday, Feb. 17, “Community Forum on Iraq” will be held at the Basalt Middle School from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Its purpose is to provide a venue for everyone – whether they support war or oppose it or fall anywhere in between – to express their views in an open, non-confrontational setting.

It is being organized by an ad-hoc group of concerned citizens (such as myself), local religious leaders and the town of Basalt. We run the gamut politically. What we agree on is that a matter of such national importance demands some sort of public process at the local level, and that a free and respectful exchange of views can only be a healthy thing.

The forum will not be a rally, nor a debate. Since most people don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of large groups, the discussion will take place in small breakout groups.

A panel of individuals representing a range of perspectives will be on hand to facilitate the group discussions and be available to answer questions afterwards. The forum won’t be religious, but I think having religious leaders involved will help to set a more respectful tone.

My hope is that this forum will help us all better understand the complexities of the situation, and help dispel the us-versus-them mindset that is threatening to stifle intelligent discussion.

I personally believe that the more opportunities people are given to discuss this war, the more they’ll be for peace. But I will be attending with an open mind, and I expect my own thinking to be broadened.

I like the way Marie Gasau, minister of the Basalt United Methodist Church, put it: “I really think it’s important that we listen to one another. We don’t all have to agree, but it is possible to see the human dignity in each other and have respect for each other’s views. And if we can come together with respect, individual to individual, then there’s hope that we can do that as nations. Then there’s some hope for peace.”

By the way, the forum is free, childcare will be provided and refreshments will be available.

Dave Reed

Basalt


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