Alright everyone, go to your metaphorical corners. The court of public opinion is open and it has sharp edges. Where do you sit? Left or right, ever-Trump or never-Trump, progressive or conservative, we’ve retreated to our corners and there we seem determined to stay.

To meet this moment of collective immobility, we need to change the shape of our table. It must be round. That means risking conversations that make us uncomfortable, hearing opinions that make us sad, learning to thrive on differences. To craft compromise, we need to debate the issues of the day openly and without fear. Instead we sit in silence and anger, entrenched in our opinions. This is not good for the future.

In times of great fear and deep uncertainty, many retreat to “other-ism” or the dangerous tendency to divide the world into “Us” and “Them.” Racial divides deepen; antisemitic and homophobic jokes become acceptable. But as much as we would prefer easy, black-and-white ways of living, we cannot. Democracy is full of noise and light, textures and colors, and many shades of gray.

By the way, the roundtable metaphor applies to every issue I can think of, but especially to the Roe/Dobbs Supreme Court decision. The naïveté of progressives and the cynicism of conservatives are like oil and vinegar. Shake them up! Sleeping voters awaken come the fall. HIPPA is established law about medical privacy. Why is there even a question about whether or not HIPPA applies to my womb? S.E. Kupp said it well, “Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.” Can we begin a conversation there?

Our roundtable has no corners, no place to hide. The pursuit of happiness must be available to everyone. Love of fairness means more voices are better. Peaceful co-existence means living with a little less so that neighbors can live a little better. We need to navigate differences with conscious generosity.

Karen Morris Muriello is a 44-year Oak Park resident, a retired web communications specialist, who served as deputy village clerk for the village of Oak Park, 2005-2010.

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