Listen, with respect and courtesy

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To the Editor:

Last week, I read the Letter to the Editor (Oct. 9, “Solid evidence needed”) by Andrew Engelman. In his letter, Mr. Engleman stated that he is a right-wing climate [change] denier, and he offered some opinions and facts as to why he thinks that. At the end of his letter, he stated that he “eagerly awaits the insults that inexorably will arrive” and he mentioned me by name as a likely insulter.

Given some of my past Letters to the Editor, and frequent entries in the comment section online, I can see why he would expect that. The response of my friends who noticed Mr. Engleman’s letter and his resignation to the inevitable response ranged from, “what a nut-case ” to “why bother even responding?”

But, the more I thought about it, the more I came to the realization that here was a guy who was publicly going against the mainstream. An openly right-wing climate denier, in liberal la-la land!

Wow! You gotta give the man some respect for having the chutzpah to do that, and then throw down the gauntlet to me.

So, on the online comment section here, I let him know that I appreciated that he cared enough to voice his opinion, while I contemplated how to shred his arguments. At his suggestion, we met for coffee one morning.

We had a wide-ranging conversation for two hours about our backgrounds, beliefs, biases and opinions. I came away from that encounter with a real appreciation for the man and his convictions. But thinking about the bigger picture, I realize that it is not about who is right or wrong, it is about how we treat each other. We will always have differences of opinion, as we  all see reality through our individual filters. The debates will continue. Good, intelligent and honest men and women will disagree. What is important is to listen, to have some respect and some courtesy. That’s what really makes a society a pleasant place to live.

I will go about shredding Mr. Engelman’s arguments about climate change in the future, and will likely throw in a few mild insults, but for now I am content to know there are intelligent people on both sides. I have faith that we will not only figure out how to deal with the many issues that we have as a society, but we will do it with some level of civility and respect.

Don Keller

Vineyard Haven