Marge Easley, the League of Women Voters Civil Discourse Portfolio chair, will hold a forum on civil discourse at 7 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Chetco Community Public Library in Brookings — and the local league members hope elected officials will attend.
“Local officials need to learn how to work together for the good of the public so important issues can be addressed,” said League of Women Voters Curry County President Lucie La Bonte. “It is our hope they will attend.”
She added league government observers and other members are concerned about the increase in confrontations occuring during local government meetings.
The forum is open to the public.
The statewide, nonprofit (LWVOR) adopted a position in May 2017 on civil discourse: “To promote civil discourse through action and education for all government bodies, staff, and citizens for the purpose of improved public policy decisions and processes. Civil discourse means, at a minimum, mutually respectful, courteous, constructive and orderly communication.”
“How can we do a better job of fostering civil discourse in today’s polarized world?” Easley asked. “It may seem like an impossible task when bombarded by examples of angry rhetoric from both sides. Our first reaction is to defend our own positions by insisting that ‘our side’ is right, and the ‘other side’ is wrong. Yet, it’s important to remember that the art of true civil discourse starts with listening and letting go of the idea of winning and losing.”
Some advice from a Common Dreams article from March 2016 penned by Zoe Weil, and entitled “Civil Discourse Leads to Positive Change: Insults do not.”
“Ironically, it is when we are not competing to be ‘right’ that we are most likely to have our perspectives adopted by others,” Weil wrote. “Civil discourse isn’t just a better path for living and working together peacefully; it is a better path strategically if we want our ideas to be thoughtfully considered and potentially embraced by others.
“If you’re really angry and desperately want positive change, then civil discourse is your best path forward,” the article continued. “Venting your anger publicly isn’t only counterproductive, it’s also selfish. It doesn’t serve your greater goal; it only serves your most frustrated self. And given all the terrible, destructive, dangerous things that are happening in our society and the world, we need to harness the energy of our rage for positive purposes and meaningful change.
“Civil discourse is a practice. It requires deep commitment (and deep breaths). But it works better than anything else to create the foundation for collaboration toward positive change-making that meets the needs of all stakeholders.”