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Chapman: Mature debate needed about Armory floor

By Staff | Apr 4, 2014

The conversation I had one recent night with a couple of Rugby residents was refreshing. The topics: religion, terrorism, politics and media. Loaded, right?

The three of us didn’t exactly agree on much and that was fine. We went back and forth for about 90 minutes and at times the volume increased, but respect reigned.

I used to love to debate that stuff, but grew jaded in college as I saw peers enter politics and immediately jump into the nasty side of it. (Frankly, it’s nauseating how some of these now-congressional aides conduct themselves on social media.) I stopped engaging and forgot how much fun it can be to civilly discuss important issues facing the country and the world.

I realize it’s irresponsible and lazy to ignore the topics that are easiest to avoid, but this most recent session was a great reminder.

A significant number of people are expected at the Rugby City Council meeting on Monday evening to discuss the future use of the Armory. The issue is divisive as evidenced by a spate of phone calls and emails received in recent weeks.

Merchants are concerned about having a venue to host sales and shows. Others are concerned about gym space for our student-athletes. There is gray area too. Both sides have valid points and both sides will have a chance to voice their opinions to the council.

Passion may run high, but decorum is a must. If planning to attend the meeting, please remember that there is an acceptable degree of conduct.

I’ve been to just enough council meetings to know that the members do care about this community and are interested in what their constituents have to say.

With that in mind, we don’t need yelling or any other demonstrative behavior at the meeting. If all attending can at least approach the meeting with an open mind, more can be accomplished and we’re more likely to come to the right conclusion.

We’re better than name-calling and other pettiness that far too often enters the public sphere. Democracy works best when people come ready to listen – and that means listening to those you don’t agree with.

Much of that recent discussion I mentioned earlier went back to how far ahead America is when it comes to freedoms. Those include the rights to free speech and freedom of the press. We encourage all readers to take part in public meetings and to use their local newspaper to express themselves on this op-ed page. But do so in a respectful manner. We’ll all be better for it.

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