On these pages, we witness all manner of spirited debate on a wide range of topics. We generally don’t take sides, instead ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to voice their opinions on what matters most to them. And though it isn’t always possible, we attempt to keep the conversation reasonably balanced.

But “balance” has eroded to the point where oftentimes the best we can hope for is some semblance of “equal time.”

That is not a healthy marketplace of ideas. That is not democracy in action.

Many of our more prolific letter-writers are old enough to recall a time when our nation’s elected representatives from both sides of the political spectrum would refer to each other as “my good friend and colleague with whom I disagree.” They may not have been friends, but they were colleagues. They knew that getting anything accomplished for the good of the nation meant working together to accomplish common goals.

We hope you realize that our community’s greatest assets are not the lakes or mountains. No, our greatest strengths are actually reading this right now. Nothing is more valuable to a vibrant, growing community than interested, active and engaged people.

We know you disagree on so much. We read your disagreements every day. But your letters also show us just how much you care about your community. And when it comes right down to it, that’s what really matters.

Ultimately, we all want the same things. We want a strong, healthy, growing community. We want our schools to prepare our kids to be able to pursue their dreams – and, if we’re all very lucky, pursue those dreams right here. That means a stable, growing economy, business-friendly city halls, affordable housing, and, of course, the best outdoor recreational opportunities in the world.

We are committed to finding solutions to our community’s greatest challenges. And we are committed to working with you to see it through.

All it takes from you is a commitment to give others the slightest benefit of the doubt. Remember, people with whom you disagree are not your enemies. They are your neighbors, and they care about our community at least as much as you.

Consider these simple rules of engagement:

“Compromise” does not mean “surrender your core values.” Compromise means that if we can agree on the goal, we can work together in getting there.

A 25-percent friend does not have to be a 75-percent enemy. Issues we can’t agree on are issues we cannot resolve, so let’s table those while we forge ahead on the areas where we do have broad consensus.

When you go for all or nothing, you get nothing every time. You don’t have to swing at every pitch, and every swing doesn’t have to be for the proverbial fences. Remember: incremental progress is still progress.

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, The Laconia Daily Sun will host the first of a series of special events designed to bring the community together to discuss important issues affecting us all. This inaugural event, held at the Lakeport Opera House, will focus on issues related to downtown revitalization – and especially how vital community consensus is to a thriving downtown.

This symposium will feature a panel discussion with Stephen Duprey, who was instrumental in Concord’s revitalization effort, local businesswoman Karen Bassett, and Laconia Mayor Andrew Hosmer. This engaging discussion will be followed by a special reception hosted by the New Hampshire Business Council for the Arts.

This panel discussion is free, but reservations are required. Visit SunEventsNH.com for your tickets.

Yes, we are different. Our principles, our politics, even our concept of how the world is supposed to work can stand in stark contrast. But those differences bring unique insights to the table, and make us stronger for them.

Will you bring your unique insights to the table?

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