The American-News welcomes letters of opinion from our readers.

The American-News welcomes letters of opinion from our readers. Letters regarding current local and national news items are encouraged. All letters are subject to editing for length and style. Letters containing potentially libelous or obscene statements will not be published. Letters must contain name, address and phone number for verification and in case of questions. E-mail letters to: Letters may also be mailed to:  Editor, Montevideo Publishing, P.O. Box 99, Montevideo, MN 56265

March For Our Lives

The March For Our Lives took place last week across the nation and thousands of people, particularly young people, marched with fanfare through the streets. These children, however, were accompanied by the ghosts of other children who outnumbered the marchers a hundred to one. Those children, the unseen ones, had been killed when they were at their most innocent, unprotected and vulnerable, in the womb. No fanfare accompanied them. They died in silence with their very deaths codified into the laws of our land.

  You cannot create a culture of death on the one hand and expect a culture of life on the other.

  Meanwhile, the same media that has dutifully ignored the marches for life in the past gave wall to wall coverage to the March For Our Lives last week, not realizing or ignoring that they are both related and the death of the unborn is linked to the homicides of those who have been born.

  You reap what you sow, individually and as a nation. Every person on planet Earth has a feeling or a suspicion of that deep down in the gut.

  The marchers last week have been sold a bill of goods that the problem is an inanimate object to wit the gun rather than soul sickness on a massive national level.

  We ignore the manufacturer’s instructions and we suffer the consequences.

—Doug Hodge


Do we have a heart for interfaith dialogue?

Events and movements of the past year have exposed deepening divides in our nation and in our community regarding race, politics, nationality and religion. Even with the Christian faith, differences can be polarizing. Our beliefs matter and impact our actions and attitudes to the people and the world around us.

  What does God ask but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God? Christians follow in the way of Jesus, who challenged the corrupt domination system of His day, healed the sick, fed the hungry, visited the imprisoned, and welcomed the stranger out of love of God and neighbor.

  Communication is necessary to building a strong community and understanding of one another.

  A true dialogue is entered into with humility, genuinely open to hearing and seeking to understand the other point of view. Can we truly know God if we refuse to hear the voices of those who worship God differently than ourselves? I welcome the opportunity to know God better through the diverse faith experiences of both thoughtful Christians and those of other faith traditions.

  Montevideo Area Peace Seekers has organized an event called “Living the Golden Rule: Building bridges of understanding and respect between people of various beliefs.” Join us at the Community Center on Wednesday, April 4th, 4-6 p.m. for a facilitated conversation across different faith traditions. Meet neighbors, ask questions and learn something new!

—Vicki Poier


How to respond to conspiratorial thinking

Identity-based conspiratorial thinking is on the rise among Americans of all political stripes: alt-right speakers warning of a Muslim conspiracy to overthrow American democracy; radical leftists warning of a racist white conspiracy to do the same; the list goes on.

Such thinking is appealing because it gives us a clear target for our general fear, anger, and suspicion of the status quo. It is dangerous because it undermines the basic trust needed to maintain stable communities and a stable democracy. In extreme cases, it leads to violence.

The popular leftist response is to make certain thoughts & questions taboo, then publicly shame and insult transgressors in the name of “love.” This is wrong, hypocritical, and ineffective.

It is important to understand that conspiratorial thinking is often founded on a bed of legitimate concern (e.g. racism, Islamism, etc.). From there it builds to extreme and illegitimate conclusions. To make certain thoughts & questions taboo only further isolates believers with their legitimate concerns, making them even more distrustful and suspicious– and much more likely to embrace extreme views and actions.

I can think of two good responses to conspiratorial thinking. The first is to create the conditions necessary for rebuilding trust. Create spaces for people to gather and feel loved. Take people’s concerns seriously, and treat them with kindness and respect. You may believe their ideas are wrong-headed and dangerous, but their fear is human and real.

The second is to say, calmly and often, “I think it’s more complicated than that.” Because it always is. Nuance and individuality are the enemies of identity-based conspiratorial thinking.

At this point, the far-right may call you a snowflake or a cuck. The far-left may call you a racist or an Islamophobe. I’ve been called them all. Listen politely, then repeat: “I think it’s more complicated than that.”

—Brendan Stermer