I was honored to be invited to be part of Mankato’s #WritersResist event on January 15. The event was billed as “a celebration of diversity, equality, freedom, and the First Amendment.” I’m not a fan of partisan events; it’s probably the old journalist in me. I don’t wear my politics on my sleeve. I value diversity, equality, freedom, and the First Amendment and I don’t categorize them as liberal or conservative ideals. I see those issues as non-partisan; they are human issues. I believe you can be liberal or conservative and still value those fundamental human ideals.
The local event mirrored similar events across the country. This is from the Writers Resist website: “Our democracy is at risk. Growing public cynicism and an alarming disdain for truthfulness is eroding our most dearly held democratic ideals. As writers we have tremendous power to bypass empty political discourse and focus public attention on the ideals of a free, just, and compassionate society.”
I was asked to read the First Amendment, as a former (and I suppose, current) journalist and as someone who teaches mass media. The timing was perfect: in my first Introduction to Mass Media class meeting on January 10, I gave a short lecture on the First Amendment. I always start each semester with the First Amendment. I tell my class that it’s the single most important thing they will learn in class and it’s the foundation of everything we will talk about during the semester.
I read “Credo” by Neil Gaiman and I couldn’t agree more. I’m the last one to want to shut down ideas and thoughts I don’t agree with. Please, we can disagree and argue politely! I don’t care if I hear opposing ideas; all I ask is that those ideas are well-reasoned and backed by credible sources.
I take pride in surrounding myself with opposing viewpoints. People would probably be surprised to learn that I’m part of a fairly conservative church body. The rural Midwest still courses through my blood, and I’m also part of a university system that prizes critical thinking and reading and writing and the humanities. I have a foot in both worlds. I count among my dear friends both liberals and conservatives. I love people for their humanity, not for their beliefs. Dismissing wholesale an entire community is a mistake, I believe.
Here’s a local news report on the event. I guess the media person has to provide the sound bites, ha ha!
Thank you to the brilliant Diana Joseph for organizing this local event and for Brian and Wilbur Frink for opening their home to us.