2016-07-01 / Letters

Civil dialogue is encouraged

To the editor:

In a letter in the Post, (a response to my letter on the many reasons to keep the Mousam River we know and love intact), I was comforted by remembering Aristotle’s quote, “Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing.”

Sadly, too often, expressing an opinion in our society is likely to be met by personal attacks; and. civil dialogue is lost. On the other hand, doing nothing has led us to exactly where we are today with regards to this river issue. So, I welcome the criticism that indicates that a nerve has been struck that needed to be touched. However, sadly, the type of response seemed to demean the integrity of the individuals who chose to make it a personal attack.

The KLPD board and staff have had to wrestle with a dilemma decades in the making. Instead of repairing and renewing infrastructure for hydro production, the proverbial can was “kicked down the road” so we now have broken and possibly dangerous equipment instead of a modern source for cheap renewable energy. The board’s decision to relinquish their license was difficult and perhaps the only one that a business, such as a public utility, could make. I commend their diligence and appreciate the difficulty they have faced in dealing with problems mostly not of their making.

That being said, my efforts as a volunteer to get the various parties together for a facilitated dialogue on how to move forward, and my subsequent public expression on issues of loss of a renewable resource, economic impact, safety, pollution risk, etc. has been meant to problem-solve.

My wife and I live on the river but my concerns, like those of many townspeople, are about the history, the current reality and the future of our town economically and environmentally. As a facilitator (the term drawn from the root “to make easy”), I not only maintained neutrality but even offered to arrange for an external facilitator to come in pro bono, if there were questions about ensuring objectivity.

Interestingly, the writers who criticized my taking a public position were in attendance at the facilitated discussion and have even recently inquired about having another one. The two meetings held were not a mediation, where a mediator would guide a process to a required conclusion. Rather they were an effort by a trained psychotherapist, educator and facilitator to encourage people to engage in positive discourse, air their concerns and look at compromise.

Dialogue and moving together for the common good of the community is what is needed as we move into uncharted waters. Let’s work collectively, cooperatively and encourage ideas and opinions to come forth rather than criticize and personally attack.

David A. Wayne

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