Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Sun, Dec. 15

Maybe we should stop a moment and listen to each other

I try not to write on topics or issues that I cover for the paper. It's not that I don't have opinions on the issues that I cover. It's just kind of a personal rule I have with myself.

But there is one thing that I've seen over and over again in the meetings that I cover for the paper and some that I attend on my own time just to keep up to date on things.

It's the rudeness that I see from people on both sides of the decision-making bench that dismays me.

I have seen members of the public harangue Council members and supervisors for their actions and decisions.

And I've seen Council members and supervisors blast members of the public for their comments. I've also seen members of the public on opposing sides of an issue vilify each other during meetings.

It's something that's become so common that I've become kind of immune to it.

I shake my head and scribble down a few notes in my notebook for a story later.

But recently two things happened which have brought this rudeness back to the forefront of my mind.

The first was a quote from Lee Hamilton, the vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, that someone handed me last week.

"Anybody can walk into a room when you're talking about a controversial topic and blow it apart. That's easy," Hamilton said.

And it is, it's very easy to get upset when someone attacks or opposes something that you feel quite strongly about.

Goodness knows there've been many times when someone has gotten my goat, so to speak, and I've wanted to hurl words or even something solid and heavy across the room at them.

There have even been times when I've lost it altogether and started to yell - just ask my family.

Hamilton's words reminded me of something else, a woman, who spoke quite eloquently, during the Council's Call to the Public on Oct. 15.

She quoted this line from the movie "The American President," "America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, 'You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.'"

It's so easy to point out someone else's shortcomings, whether it's how they drive, how they raise their children or how they vote as a city council member.

It's easy to complain. It's easy to point the finger of blame.

What's not so easy, my boyfriend would say, is coming up with a solution.

And what's even harder is coming up with a solution that everyone can agree on.

To finish the above quote from Hamilton, "What is really hard and what is, I think, the key ingredient is a political skill that brings people together. And consensus building is, in my judgment at least, the most important political skill to have, bringing people together."

One person cannot bring several groups with opposing viewpoints together. Everyone has to want to work together to solve a problem.

I'm not going Pollyanna and saying, "why can't we all just get along." I know that's not going to happen.

What I am trying to say is that there are no wrong opinions, just different ones, and maybe we all need to bend a little and look at things from the opposite side of the bench before we start to point fingers.

Or as the woman who spoke at the last council meeting said, "Mayor Byram, Council members, I am proud of Kingman and the citizens that live here. I believe you are as well or you would not be sitting where you are tonight. I guess all I am saying tonight is that I am hoping that at some point, the advanced citizens sitting in front of me in those chairs [the Council members] and behind me realize that everyone has a right to what they want or need to say and that maybe you should be proud of the fact that someone wants to fill out paperwork. After all, maybe it just means that people are paying attention."

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