I thought the editorial opinion contained in the “Our View” column last week provided a commonsense approach to solving not only the sound issues currently being debated in the Siesta Key Village but most problems that come along in life. It would be nice if we would act like responsible adults and discuss the problems at hand to find solutions that are acceptable to all concerned.
We could also try living by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” or just “Do the right thing.” As the song says, “What a wonderful world this would be.”
The reality is, we, as a society, have changed over the last decade or two and not for the better, in my opinion. Civility has become a rare commodity. The ability to be able to sit down and calmly debate and discuss different sides of issues or problems seems to have been lost or forgotten.
I personally have blamed the downfall of the civilized world on allowing young men to wear baseball caps indoors, especially in restaurants. However, in the case of problem solving or just political discourse, I think it has more to do with the necessity of both sides to win at any cost, including demonizing the opponents.
Real-life examples of what I am describing can be seen and heard on a daily basis on talk radio and the two politically biased cable “news” channels, MSNBC and Fox News. There is nothing “fair and balanced” being expressed over the airwaves from any of those news sources. And, worse yet, the modus operandi of the commentators on these programs is to attack the people on the other side of the issue as being not only wrong in their position but also as self-serving, unpatriotic and sometimes just plain stupid.
With many more people watching and listening to these mean-spirited media sources on a daily basis than to more polite, mainstream news programs, it is no wonder that the discourteous behaviors on these shows have rubbed off on the viewers and listeners. It is also unfortunate that this uncivil behavior has spread beyond political debates to everyday issues like noise ordinances within the village or alcohol consumption on the beach.
In order for the residents in the Village, the restaurant owners, the drinkers and the nondrinkers on the beach to “get along,” we all need to believe that our concerns are being acknowledged, and not just dismissed, by those on the other side of the issue. It is when one side does not feel like they are being heard that frustration builds and more dramatic actions are taken sometimes just out of spite. When this happens, the opportunity for finding a fair solution for all parties is hindered by a breakdown in communication.
To achieve a sensible solution to any problem, both sides must be willing to do something that many people have come to believe is an unreasonable act — compromise.
Although compromising is currently seen in this country as being weak and giving up one’s principles, it is normally how things get done in a democracy. And democracies are stronger and more respected as a governing body when both sides of an issue believe that their concerns have had the opportunity to be heard and considered.
As we move forward to find ways to make life on Siesta Key and in the Village better for all who call it home or a just a favorite vacation destination, let’s try to incorporate more civility in our debates and discussions. Compromising with the opposition should be expected in any good faith negotiations.
Let’s turn off talk radio and the cable political channels and try to treat those people among us with opposite points of view with respect. I think we would be surprised how much we could accomplish.
John Gudritz is the co-owner of an investment management firm. He and his wife have been coming to Siesta Key since the 1970s and have been property owners and seasonal residents since 2008.