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Supervisor's Corner: The Need for Open Mindedness in 2021

By Webster Town Supervisor Tom Flaherty



By the time you are reading this article, the Inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden, has occurred. God willing, it occurred with civility and no repeat of the disturbing events at the Capitol two weeks prior. There's old adage that, at family events or other social gatherings, "Don't talk about politics or religion." I don't know the genesis of the saying, but I can only imagine some wise person saw the combustible aspect to such topics if the participants in the discussion were a) from polar opposite viewpoints, and/or b) impassioned enough in their view to cause an argument or worse! Bottom line... not a great thing to occur at Thanksgiving or Christmas with family or a get-together of friends.

So why do some people get so agitated if they encounter another person who doesn't agree with their point of view? I don't purport to have the answer to that question, but I think some of it may have to do with "open mindedness." When I was campaigning in 2019, I met a gentleman who was a registered Independent. During our conversation, I asked how he came to be an Independent. His answer made a lot of sense to me then, but it really has resonated with me in the past few months as we saw the divisiveness of the country that was on full display during the Presidential Election. Essentially, he described how he did not like the "labels" that were on people when they were teenagers in high school. You were a jock, or artsy, etc. Then you go to college, into the military, or work, and in your early twenties those labels go away and you become enlightened to the reality that "People are more complex than a ONE label." You can be a jock AND be artsy at the same time. However, as you enter your late twenties/early thirties and you started to get interested in voting for our government leaders, your options to party affiliation make you revert to the "Label" issue of high school, and he just did not want to do that. He wanted to be "open minded," and thus avoided registering in one of the two dominant political parties in the United States.

I don't think we all need to register as Independents to achieve open mindedness. However, I do think you can be Democrat or Republican and NOT identify yourself as that first and foremost as you approach your fellow human being. If we are going to put labels on ourselves or others we encounter, it seems to me some better ones that would promote open mindedness in our dealings are as follows; Mother, Father, Daughter, Son, Sister, Brother, Friend... fellow human beings. See yourself and others as those labels and NOT "Republican or Democrat," and we will go a long way in 2021 to the open mindedness we so desperately need.

As always, if you want to reach me, please call (585) 872-7068 or e-mail me at supervisor@ci.webster.ny.us.

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