EDITORIAL: Progress requires passion, compassion and dialogue


OK, Park County folks. Here’s your chance to show people around the country how passionate people can work together for the common good of the community.

Two groups plan to meet in adjacent locations in Cody on Saturday, apparently by coincidence, to promote the causes they’re passionate about.

While those causes differ, it’s likely that both groups — Women and Allies and a pro-life march — could find some common ground to work toward to better the lives of people in Park County. But there also is a nearly overwhelming precedence for conflict nationwide.

The first gathering is a pro-life march and rally by Park County Right to Life that will take place at 11 a.m. at the Park County Courthouse. As in past years, the march will observe the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States on Jan. 22, 1973.

“It’s a peaceful gathering,” said organizer Leslie Maslak. “We’re not trying to denigrate people; we just have the unborn in mind, as well as the women and men who suffer because of (abortion).”

Meanwhile, the Women and Allies group plans to gather at Cody City Park at noon Saturday to promote “justice, equality and human rights.”

The stated purpose of the group is to raise awareness of issues affecting women, minorities and other marginalized populations.

“The goal of this event is to make a forceful statement to protect civil liberties that we feel have been threatened or challenged,” said co-organizer Harriet Bloom-Wilson. “We want to make sure that those in power understand that we’re watching and we want to protect our communities, families and friends in areas where we think there have been challenges to their human rights.”

The group’s rally in Cody is timed to coincide with more than 300 similar events nationwide.

Obviously, these groups are passionate about their causes. And, obviously, they’re not going to see eye to eye on every issue.

But there is common ground. Both groups are comprised of passionate people who want what’s best for the people in their communities. Both groups are willing to get involved to help that happen — and, by working together, they can make progress in some areas.

U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., provides an example through his “80-20” rule when it comes to working with people of differing viewpoints. Enzi says he believes people on both sides of the aisle generally can agree on 80 percent of issues surrounding a subject, while they disagree on only 20 percent. He champions working on the 80 percent rather than letting the 20 percent stop all progress toward dialogue and agreement.

We’d like to see similar attitudes and progress come out of the rallies in Cody on Saturday. In fact, that’s one of the stated aims of the Women and Allies gathering.

“The bottom line is, we really want all of us to be able to talk to each other in a civil manner,” Bloom Wilson told the Tribune. “We feel that civility kind of got thrown away during the campaign. ... Please come and talk to us. If someone says, ‘I’m concerned about what you’re saying,’ or ‘I don’t agree with you, but I would like to talk about it,’ then let’s set up a time to do that.”

That would be a refreshing change to the heated rancor, ugly rhetoric, vile statements and inflammatory social media posts that, too often and for far too long, have dominated much of the political discourse in the United States.

We also encourage people to limit their posts on social media to productive dialogues, rather than using the relative security provided by seclusion, and sometimes by anonymity, to fuel the flames of conflict.

A good counselor once advised that, the more polarized people become on any issue, whether it be parenting or politics, the less likely it is that anyone is willing to listen to the other side — and that leads to further polarization and stronger battles of wills.

That cycle has to stop somewhere. This would be a good place to start a new, more civil, way of discussing our differences and working toward positive solutions.

You can do it, Park County. Show them how it’s done.