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Love, compassion, and understanding still make sense

EDITOR:

I am writing in response to the September 22nd editorial by Mike Cousineau that has been widely shared online in the past few days, with many community members praising or “liking” Mr. Cousineau’s words (words that were, in fact, paraphrased/plagiarized from a viral internet post that circulated Facebook and other social media platforms earlier this year).

I am not someone who typically speaks up or argues in the context of the internet; however, I would be remiss if I didn’t voice my opinion regarding some of the points made in this editorial. Part of me wonders if I’ll regret this later, if I’ll receive a dozen notifications, replies, letters sent, or even if my daughter will be shunned at school. That scares me.

But what scares me more is how many people shared in support or “liked” this article without, perhaps, thinking about the harmful consequences. Without thinking about their neighbor who immigrated here 10 years ago. Without thinking about their niece or nephew who hasn’t yet come out as transgender. Without thinking about their low-income friend who wants to send their kid to college, but doesn’t know how. Maybe you don’t agree with everything that was said, but then why did you share it? Why are you perpetuating this divide?

It’s so easy to put negative energy out into the world right now; what may be more difficult is to stop, take the time to listen to others who may not have the same opinion as you, and truly reflect on why you feel this way.

Explore some of the political and social systems that have led you to where you are right now in life. Pick up some books written by people who don’t look like you or have a similar upbringing. Join and/or volunteer for an organization that benefits people who are truly different from you. Engage in meaningful, measured dialogue with people at the opposite end of the political and/or social spectrum.

It’s really difficult, scary, and uncomfortable work. But I have faith that many of you can do this work to help ensure that our community is more welcoming, inclusive, and progressive than we’re giving ourselves the opportunity to be. We cannot take back the hurt that some of our neighbors might have felt when reading that editorial and its subsequent support, but perhaps we can be more intentional about where we put our energy going forward.

Or maybe I’m shouting at a brick wall — lately I’m feeling lonely, defeated, and helpless in these thoughts and intentions. However, for the sake of my daughter, and others in this community who may not have the ability, opportunity, or privilege to speak up, I have to say something. We all have to keep trying. We all need to keep growing.

Going forward, I implore you: next time you click “share” or send an angry retort just please ask yourself, “How is this helping us build a better, more loving community?”

Erica Mead

Escanaba

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