It’s about listening

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To the Editor:

Last week I was the co-subject of an article (“The art of civil discourse: Political opposites meet in the middle”) about having a civil political conversation with the “other side.”

I was generally pleased with it, and I hope someone may be inspired to stop and listen to others that they may have fundamental differences of opinion with, or perhaps even start a conversation with someone you know they will disagree with.

But the story of course had some errors. Most egregious to me was that when I was asked “how I came to be on the Vineyard,” I whimsically said “chasing a woman,” and then told the story of living with a woman in Maine and moving here to be with her when she got a career-enhancing position at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. Sometime later we talked about my bicycle, as I rode it there for our meeting.

Even later I said something to the effect of it helps to have “happy thoughts.” That thought came from a late friend, Elliot “Bud” Macy. I was helping him build a garage when he was well into his 90s. I asked him what the secret to his longevity was, and he said “a rowing machine and happy thoughts.” A truly inspirational man.

Anyway, the author of the article boiled all that down to I “came here in 1986 to ride my bike, chase women, and think happy thoughts.”

The fact that he put it in quotes is especially disturbing. I never said anything close to that. I didn’t even have a bicycle when I moved here.

I feel like I was painted as the left-wing, free-love, tiptoe-through-the-tulips, without-a-care hippie. Perhaps good press, but not accurate.

It’s not only poor reporting, but has consequences for me personally, as I could reasonably expect some people (women especially) to think of me as a womanizer. Something I am not.

The author, Jack Shea, has personally apologized to me for that, and I will take this opportunity to publicly thank him for that, but…really?

The whole point of the story was about listening. Something the author failed to do.

Don Keller

Vineyard Haven