The walls that divide us | AspenTimes.com

The walls that divide us

Dear Editor:

I believe the best way to encourage all to engage in the political environment is to foster an environment of respect and tolerance in governance.

Our political atmosphere now is intolerant and disrespectful. Our elected representatives will not work with one another to improve our country. Every measure Obama has presented has been met with partisan opposition. Lawmakers, it seems, are more concerned in dragging down the country so they can say, “Look how Obama has not made things better.” Then they want you to believe by electing them things will change.

We live in a time of polarization and separation. Politicians, not unlike religious leaders in general, want you to be part of their party or sect. Once you are a member of the in-crowd, all those on the outside burn in hell. In order to make your crowd the chosen one, you have to erect borders and walls to separate. Once the walls and borders are in place, there appears to be no way to access the other crowd to make things better.

Locally, people are judged not by abiding by the law as it is; rather they are ridiculed if they do not live up to what someone thinks the law should be. If one follows the law and it is not as it “should be,” they are finding a loophole. If a group exercises its right to free speech and expression in a law-abiding fashion, it is scorned for not living up to the “spirit” of the law as someone who erects walls and borders defines the spirit of the law.

Not until we realize that we are all one another will things improve. There is no us and them – there is only us. There are no red states and blue states – there is only the United States.

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Not until political and religious differences are embraced and respected will there be an atmosphere that invites engagement. We cannot live in peace and love our neighbors until we really believe that we are one. We cannot change the world alone, but we can change ourselves. If we all embrace and celebrate differences and respect those who present divergent views, we will have a chance at improvement. We might even learn something from what others have to say.

If we continue to tolerate leaders who scorn and marginalize those who think differently, we only harm ourselves. Those who scorn are erecting barriers of separation. To paraphrase: Tear down these walls.

Ward Hauenstein

Aspen