It’s easy to rattle off the many issues on which Oregonians are split these days, locked down on either side pointing fingers and accusing the other of moral corruption.
The fodder for division is great. The recent upheaval with the general election and Oregonians’ choices for governor. Our sanctuary status. The homeless crisis playing out across the state. Oregon’s massively underfunded public pension system. Mayor Ted Wheeler’s strategy to address the regular rallies and counter protests in downtown Portland. Freedom of speech. Scooters.
The list goes on and on. And with the closing of some minds, we see a deepening of trenches and a shaming of those who hold viewpoints that don’t fall in line.
Steve Allison of Hillsboro wrote about his feelings from one perspective in a letter to the editor earlier this month: “Following this recent election, I find myself totally alienated from my fellow Oregonians. Yes, I feel that I am an Oregonian having lived here for 42 years.
“I am a conservative who believes in obeying the law, supporting the constitution of the United States as written, secure borders, true freedom of speech and honest debate, fiscal responsibility and holding our politicians responsible to work on our behalf. Beliefs I find not held in Oregon. Despite the upheaval of the recent general election and the signs of division we see every day, so many Oregonians are searching for ways to come together.”
Other Oregonians, like Lynn McClenahan of Southwest Portland, have shared from the other side, and offered up ways they’re trying to get by. “I don’t expect to change someone’s mind. I want to respect others’ beliefs — unless they encourage harmful actions — and I want to be respected by others for my beliefs. This is easier said than done, and I know I need help with this.”
“I recently attended a workshop facilitated by Better Angels volunteers called ‘Talking across the political divide,’” she wrote. “It provided practical tools for blue and red individuals to reduce political polarization — but more than that, it gave me hope.”
In a recent Opinion section, Tom Bowerman and Jackman Wilson of Eugene share a commentary piece, “Finding common ground in a not-so-divided Oregon,” in which they argue that a majority of Oregonians aren’t as fractured as we may feel. At least when it comes to caring for our environment and creating a more equitable health care system. That’s reassuring.
“The overall picture is one of great complexity,” they write. “Oregonians see the world in full color, not just red and blue. Deep disagreements do exist, but not nearly so much as agreement.”
And, as they do every year, readers of any political stripe can support local programs that will help Oregonians in need access health care, food, educational programs and a variety of other local services through The Oregonian/OregonLive’s Season of Sharing.
The annual campaign, which launched last week, allows readers to donate to a number of local social service agencies through our 501©(3) nonprofit with an understanding of exactly how their dollars will help.
So far, 2018 has been a difficult year. Many of us have found it hard to escape local and national politics and the fear, frustration and powerlessness that often follow.
End the year on a higher note, providing hope and support to local groups that work hard every day to help fellow Oregonians, no matter their political views.