Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” Ronald Reagan once said, “Live simply, love generously, care deeply [and] speak kindly.”
This nation has never been perfect, but together, we have accomplished wonderful things. The United States of America is a great experiment, and we are still a young country.
From the time of the first white settlement, people came here seeking opportunities to do things differently than the way they had always been done before. People came to these shores to practice their own religion (or none at all), to become land and homeowners, to start their own businesses, to get an education, to raise their children and to contribute to a free society.
People have come to this country for generations seeking the American dream — the idea that, according to James Truslow Adams in 1931, "Life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.
As a nation, we have made mistakes. As a nation, we have a history of decimating populations of indigenous peoples and a history of slavery. As a nation, we have discriminated against women, Native Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Latino-Americans, LGBTQ Americans, indigent Americans, disabled Americans and mentally ill Americans.
As a nation, we have also learned from these mistakes. We have grown and accomplished great things. We have put people on the moon. We invented rock 'n' roll. We were first in flight.
We have defended those who cannot defend themselves. We have come together when we have needed to. We have expressed human compassion and kindness in trying times.
In November 2016, we had an election where 53 percent of our electorate turned out to vote — 45.9 percent of that vote went to one candidate, and 48 percent went to another. Several months later, we are just as divided — if not more.
These are tough political times, with much discord and discontent. People are scared. People are worried. How can we begin to come together as a nation? How can we begin to breach this current divide and to heal old wounds?
Maybe we can’t, but we must try. We must start here in our own community.
Steamboat Springs is a small and caring community. We must remember kindness and embrace it.
Let us affirm everyone’s right to express themselves without harm to any and instead with kindness to all. Let us respond to each other with questions and concerns instead of insults and easy dismissals. Let us attempt to understand each other’s point of view, rather than hastily typing off nasty comments online. Let us learn from each other without name-calling. Let us build bridges instead of walls.
A quote attributed to Plato says, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” We are all in this together — as citizens of this planet and of this country.
Most importantly, as citizens of Steamboat Springs, we are right here in this community right now — together. Life is challenging enough. It is important for us to be kind to each other. Let us lift each other up rather than trying to tear each other down.
There are many good people in this community. We can do this.
Erin Biggs, Nancy Spillane, Diane Miller, Mariana Ishida, Linda Delaney, Nancy Working, Lisa W. Berry, Betty Truelove and Nancy Porter