Dr. Bill Atwood

We need to start embracing one another and encouraging others to be more civil

By Dr. Bill Atwood

In June I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Wheaton, Illinois as a delegate for the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. The conference was a meeting of other Anglican Dioceses from across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. There were representatives of other Anglican Dioceses from Africa, South America, Asia, and England.

We came from various backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, and economic status. There were liberals, conservatives, and moderates in our group of 1,400, who shared dorm rooms at the college where we gathered.

During the entire time, I did not see one security officer and we did not need to have any. People behaved as people should behave - with respect and dignity toward one another.

One gentleman from California I enjoyed meeting over a few meals was quite bright, and during our mealtime chats, we discovered that we virtually cancel out each other’s votes on state and national issues. We enjoyed the exchange of ideas about many issues and the sharing of our philosophies. Voices were never raised, blood pressure never increased while two guys discussed the normally taboo conversational topics - politics and religion. It was very civil.

Years ago when Alan Cheah, J.R. Froelich, Peter Cavanaugh, and I were writing opinion pieces for the Sierra Star, we would gather on a few occasions to share a meal and conversation. A number of folks would take our photo as the four of us sat talking, laughing, and discussing why each thought the way he thought.

With J.R.’s passing and Alan’s decision to pull away from the duties of being a columnist, it leaves only Peter and I. People are shocked when they see the two of us at any event standing and sharing laughs and stories. We can disagree in an agreeable manner as we are civil to one another.

In fact, in 2014 on the night of the off year election, the Mountain Democrat Club held a “Celebrity Bartenders Evening” at Crab Cakes to raise money for their club’s scholarship and in one of Peter’s columns he had invited the entire community to attend.

I chose to attend and invited a couple of friends who usually vote conservative to attend as well. I was warmly greeted by many in that club who usually took me to task in the letters to the editor portion of the paper.

We donated generously to the scholarship fund and left having had a great evening of fun without any gloating about the defeat that the Democrats had endured that evening. It was civil.

Many of you have seen the ads by the Sikh community on television which is part of a $1.3 million campaign to reach out to non Sikhs, telling us that they are much more like us than they are different.

These Sikhs are trying to separate themselves from others from their faith or culture who have hijacked their religion for political reasons. They are reaching out in a very civil manner to remind us that for the most part their segment of the population act with civility as we do. We need to return that civility to them.

Our society is becoming ruder each day. Insults, sniping, threats, bigotry, intolerance, and violence are becoming the accepted norm. Enough is enough.

In small towns we enjoy the aspects of friendliness in a greater way than those who live in larger cities. We see on television how many treat others. We need to start embracing one another and encouraging others to be more civil to one another.

In few words, “Be nice.”