Letter: It’s important for citizens to stand up, speak out

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To the Editor-

I have been reflecting on Mr. (Dan) Kontos’ prompt urging citizens to stand up and speak out.

How often do you hear that nowadays? Sounds like echoes of “We the People,” and 1960s images and memories. Or, perhaps the call echoes through a dozen years teaching the Speak Your Peace Civility Project in local schools. No matter, the forces existing to silence those who wish to oppose the status quo in this era are oppressive, and, to use another word….ominous.

Years ago, an essay authored by social activist and writer Parker J. Palmer became a personal compass: “The Politics of the Broken Hearted: Holding the Essential Tensions of Democracy.” Palmer writes: “…. we live in a tragic gap — a gap between the way things are and the way we know they might be. It is a gap that never has been and never will be closed…. we must learn to stand in the tragic gap, faithfully holding the tension between reality and possibility.”

Despite the prompt to revitalize county leadership, and to stand up and speak out, the Portage County Land and Water Committee ethics review process surely disappointed, but didn’t surprise. Previous experiences in recent years of standing in the tragic gap have led to similar, old stale outcomes: democracy in 3-D — deceit, delay, and double standards.

I, too, have ethics complaints. However, mindsets and patterns of trained, seasonal professionals in the county operating under legalese, confidentiality and privacy, engage in tactics that are disturbing, demeaning, and yes, dangerous for children and families.

Many thanks to the faithful citizens repeatedly standing up and speaking out in efforts to steward our groundwater. I value the public square offered and encouraged in the opinion section of the Point/Plover Metro Wire. According to Parker Palmer, a healthy democracy “will not come from watching our tongues but from valuing our differences.”

Value our differences?

I have an impression of the process of a county ethics complaint, and likely outcome. It doesn’t mean I won’t keep standing in the tragic gap. Our children and water are precious resources. These are essential tensions.

Cheryl Geske