We can act locally and think globally

And don’t assume you know everything a person is doing when you see them holding a sign.

(Editor’s Note: Viewpoint submissions on this and other topics are always welcome as part of our goal to encourage community discussion and exchange of perspectives.)

Nov. 6, 2019 — In his Letter to the Editor “Does it really have to be all or nothing?” (Nov. 2), Matt Danielsson asks, “How can anyone possibly hope to bridge the gap and reach the hearts and minds of ‘the other side’ if a minor disagreement with someone already sharing all the same basic concerns manages to offend you?”

What he fails to appreciate is that the offense was generated not so much by this so-called “minor disagreement” but by the tone of his original letter (“Focus On Deeds Rather Than Words,” Oct. 26).

In that letter, he suggested that there are only two kinds of people dealing with environmental issues: those like him, who actually do something in small, local ways; and those who “seem to be more concerned about yelling at the other people to do things, rather than actually doing much of anything themselves.”

He accuses these presumed non-doers of merely “posting rants on social media and holding angry speeches [which have] exactly zero benefit except as virtue signaling to the club of likeminded also vying to be the Highest Paragon of Goodness.”

But as Patricia Burke pointed out in her letter (“Do Something Rather Than Talking About It,” Oct. 30), it is possible to be both kinds of people at the same time, and that, in fact, the sign-holders here are the same folks cleaning up litter from the sides of local highways and clearing invasive species from our dunes.

I would understand if she had also taken offense to Mr. Danielsson’s accusation of “posturing” to “generate a ... ‘Like’ on Facebook.”

Personally, I was offended by his assertion “that me or anyone reading this will never have one iota of say in the international political machinations required to fix the problem. So why fret over things that are so obviously beyond our control?”

That “whaddaya gonna do?” attitude is what enables horrible things to happen every day — and it is patently false. In this country we do have a say every time we vote. We have a say when we contact our elected representatives to share our opinion on an issue.

We can even write to the president of the United States, if we’ve a mind to. We can do all those things and do something small and local, like planting a tree. Because it’s no good to plant a tree if it’s just going to die from the acid rain resulting from China’s coal-burning power plants.

So we need to do all the things we can to fix this problem.

Act locally, and think globally.

To answer Mr. Danielsson’s question, the way “to bridge the gap and reach the hearts and minds” of others is to remember that the secret to effective communication is tone as well as words.

And don’t assume you know everything a person is doing when you see them holding a sign.


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