Dear Fellow Citizens:
We, the undersigned members and participants in the life of a small rural Kentucky church, know that our form of government depends on open dialogue about public policies and problems confronting us. As the 2012 presidential election approaches, we are gravely concerned about a growing incivility in our body politic, and about a deficit of trust among our American people.
In our small congregation of just 30 people, there exists a wide array of political opinions and economic convictions. Each of us also would express our religious convictions in diverse ways. Yet, we are able to come together each week as a community of trust, care, and respect for one another. We know that none of us “has it all together”, that none of us is without mistaken notions, that none of us has all the right answers. We know that as we work and talk together, we are able to face our individual and social issues more responsibly that we can alone. It is this unique gift that we offer as a model to the political life of our nation at this critical time in our history as a nation.
The teachings of our religious tradition, and that of many of the world’s great religions, tell us that we should “do unto others as we would have them do unto us”. This Golden Rule reminds us that respect for the other, no matter how different from ourselves, is essential to both individual and social well-being.
We view with great alarm the increasing refusals among our elected officials to compromise with people of other political parties, and the express intentions of all political parties to stymie the attempts to govern at all.
Therefore, we call on other congregations and religious communities—be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or other beliefs:
- to join with us in calling for new efforts at civility and respect for one another in this presidential campaign year;
- to join with us in asking politicians to set aside the vitriol, the half-truths and campaign innuendos, to speak the truth about one another in their political campaigning and about the critical issues of our time;
- to join with us in reminding politicians and our fellow citizens that Kentucky’s motto: “united we stand (as a nation) and divided we will fall” is as true today as it ever was, and in pointing out to politicians and our fellow citizens that deficits of trust and respect may be, in the long run, more corrosive to our national health and well-being than any financial deficit.
We call on our fellow citizens to be caring and careful consumers of media and advertising, questioning claims and resisting attempts of emotional manipulation.
Finally, we call on politicians to adhere to high standards of civility, integrity, and truthfulness, and insist that the advertisements produced by their own campaigns, and those of other groups such as Political Action Committees (PACs), do the same.
We issue this letter in the confidence that if we embrace our highest values: humility before God and one another, honesty, kindness, and mutual respect, our body politic will find ways to build a healthier and more enduring republic. Let us initiate a new season of civility in our life together.
Rev. Nancy J. Kemper; Cindra J. Walker; Laura Wolfrom; William M. Redmond; Sara B. Call; James M. Call; Linda J. Minch;
J. Michael Mansfield; Evelyn B. Kemper; Mary Henson; Ellen Gibson; Frank Gibson; William F. Pollard; Martha Billips; Sarah Hurst
Janice B. Pieratt; Chris Kellogg