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Letter: Begin 2018 with respectful dialogue

To the editor: 

A year ends and another begins. The past year it seems that so much in our everyday existence has been crowded out by near constant media and social media attention to national politics. Yes, we must be informed and understand the world's politics, but not at the expense of our every waking moment or our mental health.

Most national media outlets strive to feed our anxieties and amp up our outrage, mainly for their own economic gain. This onslaught of negativity — from both sides of the political spectrum — is hindering our ability to engage in respectful political dialogue.

Just answer someone's question as to whether you are a Republican or a Democrat or whether you support the current president and wait for the fireworks to begin. Instead of listening to others' viewpoints, we spend all our energy thinking about how to refute them and no time figuring out how to solve the problems at hand. Sadly, I have seen people who can no longer engage with each other at all due to political views.

Political ideology is simple, but the problems facing society are complex. To solve them our nation must come together.

We make the biggest impact on the people we interact with daily. Here I challenge you to listen carefully to others, as you go about your day. That does not mean abandoning your own beliefs or commitments, but it does mean being respectful, whether face to face or via keyboard.

On a positive note, the media has done a good job bringing the subject of sexual harassment to the forefront. We have a new awareness of what constitutes harassment. In addition to outright criminal behavior, we also have seen that what one person may consider funny or harmless, another may find demeaning or threatening. It is the recipient who determines this — not the harasser. From bullying in the classroom to harassment in the workplace, we must continue to eradicate harassment in its many forms.

The new year is a blank canvas and we decide what colors to give it. Whatever your role in society, you make an impact. Make it a positive one. Our collective resolution should be to help each other be the best Americans we can be. It takes both restraint and courage, but I believe we can do it — starting right now, right here, at home.

John Howe

Red Wing