Attitude hides shared interests

Guest column

Dear Mr. Porter,

I’m writing in response to your letter to the editor in last week’s Fredericksburg Radio-Standard Post. These letters are always the first thing that I read when our paper arrives each Wednesday, and I’ve never been disappointed by them, for good and bad.

When I first read your letter, Mr. Porter, I felt angry. Angry that you tied “Republican” and “Christian” so tightly together and yet wrote a letter that seems wholly un-Christian. Angry that you seem to believe that our community is not capable of treating all with civility, despite differing political opinions and beliefs. Angry that you can’t seem to welcome people who aren’t like yourself to our community. Angry that you think that some people in our community need to move to Detroit.

I wanted to lash out with a quick response but decided that the best course would be to think on it. As I sat down to write my response, I just feel sad for you. You seem to be under the mistaken impression that Christian and Democrat exist on some spectrum and that a person can’t be both, but I want to assure you that I know many Christian Democrats (or Democratic Christians) in our community who work tirelessly for and within our town and beyond. I think you’d be surprised by how many of us there are here.

You might also be surprised to know that we coexist quite peacefully with our neighbors whose opinions may differ widely from ours. In fact, many of my closest friends (who may or may not know my political affiliation … I guess they will now) have very different ideas from me. And while it’s not always easy to talk about challenging issues, it’s proven doable and often enlightening.

But most of my sadness for you stems from the fact that the closed-mindedness that you demonstrate in your letter likely means you’re missing out on knowing people around you with whom you might share some common ground.

You and I, though different we may be, might actually have a lot to talk about. If you’re the Michael Porter of Doss who I’ve heard and read about, I note that you’re not actually what folks around here would call a “local.” I’m not either. My family moved here five years ago from a metropolitan area, and we’ve loved every minute of small-town life.

I note that you and your wife have an interest in education, having funded a large scholarship in Mason. I’ve been an educator for 28 years, serving as a teacher, administrator, university instructor, writer and consultant, and I currently serve on the Hill Country University Center Foundation Board.

We could talk about our shared Christianity. You’re obviously a proud Christian, and I’m active in my church as an after-school teacher, a Congregational Care member, a VBS volunteer, and a former Church Council member.

You seem to be involved in the restaurant industry. I am a Texas wine and beer enthusiast, and anyone who knows me knows that I love good food.

I don’t share these things about myself to brag but rather to point out that you and I probably have many things in common. But the attitude that your letter conveys means that we’ll likely never get to sit down and share a beer and talk about them. Which is a real shame in times like these when we all desperately need to find connections with one another.

I’m going to cut your letter out of the paper, Mr. Porter, and put it on our refrigerator as a reminder to my husband, my daughter, and me that every word we say (and write) matters and that living with others always requires that we look beyond labels and find what makes each and every one of us human.

I thank you for that reminder.

Fredericksburg Standard

P.O. Box 1639
Fredericksburg, TX 78624-4228