Letters: Divisiveness can be reduced if we stop making assumptions about others’ motives
Reduce the divisiveness
Recently, I posted a comment on ParkRecord.com that created quite an uproar. I used the term “lifestyle choices” to defend Americans’ right to their personal political and religious beliefs. This was misperceived by some as an anti-LGBTQ trope. I didn’t mean it as such yet apologized in the interests of moving forward. This got me thinking.
Our family tries to follow the Pritikin food and exercise regimen. Working with psychologists and nutritionists while at the in-patient program, the mantra was: “This is not a diet, but a lifestyle choice. If you consider it a diet, you will fail.” Because of “lifestyle choices,” my partner lost 85 pounds and kept it off. The Park Record published a letter about plastic bags entitled “Our Lifestyle Choices.” Understand my confusion? The simple term “lifestyle choices” is apparently triggering for some.
My apology for offending with my word choice was sincere, but after ruminating for a few days, I realized this is a two-way street. Much of today’s divisiveness is due to people assigning motives to others’ words and actions that are based on their personal beliefs, experiences and biases — as if they’re looking to take offense instead of taking people at their word. After apologizing, only one person was open-minded to the possibility that I’d made an honest mistake.
We could all learn from the book of Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements:
• The First Agreement — Be impeccable with your word
• The Second Agreement — Don’t take anything personally
• The Third Agreement — Don’t make assumptions
• The Fourth Agreement — Always do your best
The book is a worthwhile read. By endeavoring to live these four agreements, perhaps we could reduce the divisiveness among us. If we stop making assumptions about others’ motives and don’t take things personally, we could discover that our common interests far exceed our differences.
Back it up with facts
This letter seeks to inform Ms. Holly Carlin, who wrote in a letter to the editor printed on Dec. 4 that the Trump administration’s defying of subpoenas from Congress is “a most dangerous situation,” “truly an American tragedy” and “will be the end of an America as I know it.”
I urge Ms. Carlin to study history. The separation of powers is something both Congress and presidents wrestle with and each frequently asserts what they believe is their right according to the constitution … Congress to oversight and presidents to executive privilege. It is and has always been up to the courts to be the final arbiter.
In modern times, starting with Harry Truman, every president has refused certain information to Congress and the issue was either resolved through negotiation or settled by the courts. President Eisenhower defied congressional subpoena 44 times between 1955-1960. Each of Presidents Nixon, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2 and Obama defied Congress. And best I can tell the U.S. is still here. … It is not the end of America as anyone knows it.
Passion in communication and opinion is great, but it is best when it is backed up by fact.
A holiday tradition
Many revered Willam Christensen as a legend. But, to me, he was known as grandpa. Born and raised in Brigham City and went on to found the first professional ballet company in the United States, the San Francisco Ballet; he staged the first full length Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Coppélia in the United States; he started the country’s first-ever ballet department at the University of Utah; and yes, he created Ballet West, his pride and joy.
I have fond memories of him sitting in his living room, telling stories — he loved an audience. When I became aware of his accolades, I asked him, “How did you do it?” The question was really too simple to give me a simple answer, but he did. He raised his “Christensen eyebrows” and said, “I had a vision and I went for it. Each time I encountered an obstacle, I jumped over it, and kept running ahead.”
I did not become a dancer like my grandfather and mother; rather I was more interested in ski racing and tennis. However, like my grandfather, I have always been attracted to the importance of storytelling and how the arts play an essential role in creating collective experiences and conversations in our communities.
A few years ago, when the opportunity opened to fundraise for Ballet West, I leapt at the chance. I embrace my grandfather’s entrepreneurial spirit and the responsibility to bolster his life’s work. Today, as chief development officer, I have the profound duty to represent his legacy. I know he would appreciate that his Ballet West is one of the top ballet companies in the country. But, I believe he would be even more proud that his Nutcracker continues to be staged at Ballet West, 75 years after he first created it in San Francisco. And, that his production sparked a national holiday tradition that is annually produced by small and large ballet companies alike.
The success of his initial $1,000 investment in 1944 continues to pay dividends for Ballet West. Millions have watched Mr. C’s Nutcracker in Salt Lake City and across the country. The production has toured from Alaska to Washington, D.C., and garners critical acclaim wherever it is staged.
It goes without saying that I am immensely proud of Ballet West, the artistry we present, and this American treasure we are honored to stage, Mr. Willam Christensen’s The Nutcracker.
Pharmacist will be missed
It was with great initial shock followed by profound sadness when I read of the passing of Steve Hamilton in Saturday’s Park Record. According to the obituary, Steve had been the Pharmacy Manager at The Market pharmacy for the past 14 years. It is in that capacity that I first met Steve and through which we became good friends.
As a physician, I came to appreciate Steve’s broad knowledge regarding pharmacology. Steve had a thirst for knowledge that always promised a stimulating conversation when we crossed paths. Sharing a love for animals and nature, we often shared photos of creatures both large and small. Steve had a genuineness and warmth to him that left you feeling energized and happier for having spent a few minutes chatting with him. For years, whenever I happened to drop by The Market for any particular item, I would always find myself stopping by the pharmacy to see if Steve was working that day.
I am proud to say that Steve was my friend. His combination of intellect, warmth and compassion is to be recognized and admired. He was a true asset to the community. I am certain that many among us will miss him greatly.
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