The late David Broder, columnist for the Washington Post, who wrote many heartwarming columns about Beaver Island, understood that this place – albeit a special spot – is also a microcosm of society.
But by its very nature, life on an Island is different. It brings one closer to the other members of the community than most people in an urban setting will ever experience. Not only do we see each other nearly every day, but our lives become entwined in countless ways: the fellow you vehemently disagree with on practically any political question – national or local – might be the one ushering at your church or putting a new deck on your house, they might be selling you goods or providing emergency services to your home or loved ones. They might be your spouse’s good friend, they might be your child’s teacher. Simply put: We need one another, depend on one another, and let’s face it – we’re stuck with one another.
Just like siblings sharing the back seat of a car on a long family vacation, we sometimes go a little crazy, drawing imaginary lines and daring the other to cross over or face the consequences. But we are not children. We’re sitting in the front seat. It is imperative that we take on the responsibility to conduct ourselves like adults, giving each other the space and the respect that all individuals deserve. Let’s make a commitment to learn the facts and both sides of the story in order to all be informed voters.
The year ahead will be full of politics and many are already noting an escalation in tempers. Let’s do our best to curb the tendency to “fight in the back seat” as youngsters might. We should acknowledge the long car ride will end eventually and the journey will made more comfortable for everyone if we all can put aside the rancor.
Disagreements will occur, that’s a given. However, our personal conduct during the year to come can be the deciding factor to make certain the political divide will not end up splintering our sense of community. For that is where our true strength lies, that is why Beaver Island holds such a special place in so many hearts. Let’s give it a try. Let’s keep the Island’s welfare in the forefront of our minds and put aside the pettiness over minor details and even major disagreements. Let’s keep the stability of friendships and our community intact while we journey forward. Let’s do it for our good and the good of Beaver Island.