Op-Ed: More Conversation, Less Confrontation

This is a commentary from Eric Carr in response to an editorial published on March 9. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

Recently on these pages, an editorial appeared attacking me rather personally over a recent episode involving the RA Elections Committee. What struck me is that its author is a man I have never met and, indeed, was not involved in the issue. He did not reach out to express his concerns to me prior to putting pen to paper.  If he had, he would have learned that my concerns had nothing to do with any RA member’s right to an opinion, and everything to do with tone and civility, above all from members of the RA Committee chartered to enforce that very civility.

Reflecting on this has led me to a series of thoughts about the quality and tenor of discourse here in Reston, and I submit them for your consideration.

We have entered a time in our country where attacking people, rather than ideas, has become fashionable. People have become proxy for their positions and we have collectively relinquished our interest in dialogue.

This is all the more puzzling given that the vast majority of us are likeminded on the existential issues we face here in Reston. We almost all agree that we need to preserve our open space, develop our infrastructure before we grow, and band together to advocate for Reston on a bigger stage than ever before. We all want to foster a community where we can live, raise our families, feel safe, embrace all shades of America, be treated fairly, and enjoy the fruits of our labors.

We differ, too. In some cases, we differ on how to achieve these goals, on others how to govern ourselves in pursuit of those goals, and others yet on the relative role that our elected organizations should play in achieving those things on which we agree. That’s healthy, and those are conversations well worth having.

So, I am using this space today to ask a favor: let’s make our conversations contests of ideas, not people. Let’s assume noble intent in those with whom we disagree. Let’s not rush to imagine conspiracy or an intent to hide information or to deceive.

Let’s have more conversations in person, rather than from behind a keyboard or using pseudonyms. Those of you who know me, know my standard response to disagreement: let’s get coffee or a beer and talk about it. Face to face, as Restonians who care deeply about the health of our community.

Thank you for reading this. I look forward to our next conversation.

File photo

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