As the 45th president completes his first 100 days, America curiously looks and feels very much like it did on January 19.   It’s likely that the highest hopes and the worst fears have not become real.  In some respects, that may be a positive.

But it’s been a frenetic three months.

We’ve witnessed large and enthusiastic marches by women and scientists in protest of positions and actions of the president and his administration.  Some executive orders were enacted and the nation’s courts struck some down.  Repeal and replacement of Obamacare failed – for now.  A new Supreme Court justice was nominated and confirmed.  And a government shutdown looms due to Congressional gridlock.

Business as usual – right?  Sadly, yes.

It is business as usual in the sense that there was no violent revolt in response to the election.  America did not become a Banana Republic.  The vast government bureaucracy performs its functions with some relatively minor changes.  The private sector is open for business providing goods and services throughout the country.

But it’s also business as usual with a growing chasm between the haves and have nots – the hopeful and the hopeless.

And, it’s business as usual with ideological and political differences exacerbated by media fueled social and political vitriol.

And, it’s business as usual with no respectful dialogue about addressing the many issues facing our nation.  If our leaders can’t find ways civilly address their disagreements, they certainly can’t model the needed behaviors for the rest of us.

You may notice that this is not necessarily a call to activism, but it is a call to action.  Passionate advocates espouse causes that speak to them, but, activism can be also be polarizing.  It creates a call to action, but those calls can be, and should be, controversial.  The real challenge, as I see it, is creating the lost middle ground.  It’s reclaiming the space where good people with good intentions can meet to resolve different positions on serious issues.

So friends it’s up to us.  We need to seek out those who we respect.  We need to seek out those with whom we disagree and find paths to mutual respect.  We need to not be afraid to carefully listen to the opinions of others in hopes of finding a common ground.  We all have our carefully considered and closely held beliefs.   Please consider that others may have their own.

Don’t take too much solace in the fact that Trump hasn’t broken the country or too much relief in that damned Obama being gone forever.  We are all facing the same problems.  We just might have different ideas about how to solve them.

— Steve Smith

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