From: Cynthia McMillin

Columbus

A recent letter to The Republic on Sept. 16 was deeply disturbing because it illustrated perfectly the deep, perhaps unbridgeable, divide in our country.

The writer, after enumerating perceived missteps of our former president, goes on to label Barack Obama “pure evil.” Such vitriol prevents any kind of rational debate, and we are left shouting at each other across that deep divide. After all, if your political opposite is pure evil, aren’t his/her followers pure evil by association?

In such a world, where is the place for civil conversation, conversation leading not necessarily to agreement, but to understanding another point of view?

I am a product of a politically mixed marriage. My father’s family had a picture of Franklin Roosevelt displayed prominently in their living room. My mother’s family were proud Republicans, one and all. Yet they were good friends all their lives. I know they had many spirited discussions over the years, but those discussions were distinguished by civility and respect.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, Americans regarded each other with that kind of courtesy. We must begin again to see others, not as mere political positions to be for or against, but as our friends, neighbors and fellow citizens. Our very existence as a democracy depends on it.