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Together we can make a difference

By Staff | Mar 11, 2009

To the editor,

Congratulations to Mick, Kevin and Marty on their election to City Council!

At the end of every endeavor, an “after action” report is necessary – where one reviews the positive and negative aspects of the experience and hopefully identifies lessons to be learned.

There are many positives. A lot of fine people on this island stepped forward and did good things. For his fine journalism, Jeff Lysiak, editor of the Island Reporter, is one of them. Many people gave me their personal and financial support and I am grateful to them and wish to thank them formally and in public print. A lot of well-intended Sanibel citizens spoke eloquently in public, and signed their names to well written articles, letters and e-mails on both sides of the issues. These were well meant comments that were delivered in a civil tongue and by people who deserve our regard and respect for their diverse opinions. I know, and have been told by others, that I ran a campaign that was based on issues, above board and not intended to personally offend my opponents or their supporters. Everyone on my team followed that lead.

On the negative side were the unpleasantries including monolog and e-mails. Rhetoric that was vituperative, mean spirited, mostly unsigned, occasionally laced with unprintable insults came from people I have never met and would therefore not recognize if I stood next to them at the supermarket. Some people with whom I have shared good times in the past now passed me with their eyes turned down, offering no return of my greetings. Unrealistic spin was artfully placed on positions, honestly and thoughtfully taken, by campaign writers other than my opponents.

Now, while some might say that this is all normal campaign behavior, I say it is unpleasant, unattractive and has no place in this community. We need to clean up our act and start to get back to regarding each other as well meaning, intelligent people, neighbors in fact, who may have differing opinions. We can certainly find common ground, but mutual respect for one another is a prerequisite.

Finally, how do we deal with the extremes in our community? Do respected organizations here have to be at odds? Does there have to be a “great divide” that is either real or perceived – or created for a given purpose, like a political encounter for example, that benefits neither the creators nor the community as a whole? Maybe there is a real lesson to be learned from this campaign.

Maybe out of this campaign will come a few people who would like to make a difference in this equation and do it without personal benefit – unconflicted let us say. Like the Marines, I am looking for a few good men and women who would shed all other commitments, accept a no conflict agreement, support good government, accept risks and work to bring the extremes on our island together in order to strengthen this community across all lines. Don’t be afraid to volunteer. Maybe together we can make a difference.

David M. Berger, M.D.