Letters to the Editor: Finding civility

Over the course of the last several years, it seems that discourse in almost any form has become fragmented and polarized. Civility is no longer the norm. Violence has become all too common. The volume heard from the extremes seems to have drowned out the majority of us in the middle. The burden is upon us to stand and be heard.

Every aspect of our lives seems to have moved from the middle to the edge. Our economy. Our politics. Our relationships. Our religion. Fundamentalism in all its ugly forms must be stopped, and we seem either unable or unwilling to recognize that extremism in any cloth is dangerous to society.

The recent tragedy in Tucson should be yet another wake up call. If there is anything positive to be taken from this horrific event it’s the hope and urgent need for those of us with moderate views, conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, black or white, Jew or gentile, Muslim, or any religious persuasion, to recognize that our lives are being torn apart by those at the far end of our beliefs. We must find a way to work together and wrestle control of our society from those unwilling to work together towards a better world.

What we cannot do is allow the status quo to continue. The silence among those of us who permit the extremists to rule the day is deafening. The time is now to step forward and be heard. Issues in and of themselves are not what’s critical here. The key is dialogue and the time and climate is ripe for change. That change is not going to come from those on the edges of our differences…the change will come from our finding common ground.

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We have no choice. This is the path we must take.

Jay B. Umansky, President, St. Louis Region

American Jewish Congress