To the editor,

Recently our mayor voted in opposition to the request for a proclamation of “pride week” in celebration of the LGBTQ community.

Why is this issue important for our small town? In 2019, our nation, our politics and our society are fractured. Society is fractured in a terrible way. It appears democracy itself is in peril because of divisiveness.

As a small community it is important we understand what binds us together and what makes us stronger. Growing up in this town in the 1960s, there seemed to be a great deal of unity. This was a white community. I loved this town then and I love it now, but racial prejudice did exist and exists today.

Then, it was directed at native people. I am part of that community and I understand how subtle racism impacts young children. I understand how young children suffer at the hands of bigotry and prejudice.

To have a strong community, it is vital all of us have a sense of belonging, a sense of inclusiveness. We get a sense of who we are and we get a sense of our value as a human being through belonging. It is in our families and then in our community where we initially get that sense of belonging. To “not belong” has devastating effects.

Fortunately, science has afforded a better understanding of how humans differ from one another. Unfortunately, some refuse to grow in understanding and cling to ignorance and bigotry despite what science teaches.

When called-out on their bigotry and racism, bigots claim they are misunderstood. The fact is we need to be honest with each other about preconceived notions. Understandably, we have lived through a time of cultural transition. We still have a long way to go to understand fully what is required of us to live in harmony with each other.

We as a nation will not live in harmony or unity until we recognize hatred and bigotry when we witness it. It is incumbent on authorities to be at the forefront of efforts to build community. Much has been said about the so-called “Trump Effect.” The proliferation of racism and religious bullying as a result of rhetoric during the 2016 election. This bullying and racism has had devastating effects on this nation.

We need leaders who fight to unite us. We need officials who understand our human differences and build strong communities in spite of those differences. If we want a society that thrives and flourishes, we as a community need to resist all forms of prejudicial behavior and bigotry.

It isn’t just about a parade, it is about acceptance and inclusiveness. We’re all in this together.

Rennie Calder

International Falls, MN

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