The two topics — the effect of vacation rentals on our island, and racist (or nativist) charges against duly elected representatives in Congress — at first glance seem unrelated.
In most ways they are.
Yet how those two questions are being faced, discussed and, hopefully, resolved draws a connection that makes Orcas shine as a beacon of Americanism.
First, our local approach.
Last Wednesday evening over 175 folks came to the school cafeteria for a meeting to discuss vacation rentals, their benefits, their problems for our island, and possible steps forward. The meeting was organized by volunteers; it was set up so that information was provided, people were encouraged to listen openly to all views, and everyone — seated in small groups at round tables, each with its own facilitator — had chances to speak.
There was no shouting, no public anger, arguments or disputes. There was considerable disagreement. I don’t know the experience of others; I do know that I learned from hearing a speaker explain her reasons for having vacation rentals; and from listening to others at our table who held views divergent from my own.
Now compare that with the approach of President Trump, the duly elected leader of the United States of America, with reference to four first year duly elected representatives of Congress who hold views in opposition to his own: mocking, unsubstantiated accusations, and ridicule, without regard for opposing viewpoints, all designed to rouse emotions and to stoke fears.
I ask myself: What do I learn about motives for their actions by comparing the approach of the Orcas Islanders with that of the President of the United States?
My conclusion: the Orcas Islanders want to find a solution by including opposing views, finding accurate information, and making the necessary compromises.
The President of the United States wants to use his issue as a way to increase anger and division among his constituents, that is, among all of us. How we want to act as Americans is a choice each of us can make.