Ruth Bass’ column points way toward better dialogue

To the editor:

Once again Ruth Bass has found valuable insight on an important issue that increasingly threatens our nation — the level of dissension in today’s politically charged climate.

Divisiveness is a powerful force. It breeds fear, isolation, loneliness and distrust. It builds walls between neighbors. It creates rumors and, often, downright lies. It breaks down societal norms. If history has taught us any lessons, it’s that rampant divisiveness too often leads to war.

So, how can we bridge this widening chasm? My parents, who grew up in Europe during World War II, gave me good advice: “Talk to people. Put yourself in their shoes before judging them.” Not so easy to do, especially in the midst of a pandemic that requires social distancing and masks.

And yet, it’s surprising what a little effort accomplishes. A kind word or even a smile behind a mask can make a difference in someone’s day. Just as importantly, it’s a connecting point and perhaps the start of a conversation with someone with a different viewpoint.

A meaningful conversation is an important step in bridging the gap. It’s not about who is right or wrong or who can yell the loudest. It’s about listening to each other, asking questions that clarify understanding, even if you don’t agree and, hopefully, finding some common ground.

We are fortunate in the Berkshires to have voices who strive to do just that. Thank you, Ruth, and every one of you who strive to promote reasoned and constructive conversations in our community.

Claudine Chavanne, Lenox