Letter: Meeting in the middle – A beautiful thing

Posted 7/9/20

July 3 was a beautiful thing. Along with some 150 people, I witnessed the rare coming together of two politically and ideologically disparate groups paying peaceful tribute to First Responders at an …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


Letter: Meeting in the middle – A beautiful thing

Posted

July 3 was a beautiful thing. Along with some 150 people, I witnessed the rare coming together of two politically and ideologically disparate groups paying peaceful tribute to First Responders at an Independence Park flag raising.

While it wasn’t a completely unified tribute, some choosing to kneel during the flag raising, there was a clearly combined applause for the comments by Mike Byrnes, Tom Carroll and Karl Antonevich commending nurses, doctors, police, fire, EMT workers and military for their ceaseless efforts in the front lines of homeland security and local safety.

Some grumblings at the mention of police was the only sour note, but with the difficulties of Covid-19, the greater message was God bless all First Responders in these times.

But then something unexpected happened. Following the flag raising, it was heart-warming to see both sides break into impromptu civil discourse on issues of race, the rule of law, the U.S. Constitution and other hot button topics. It went on for over 30 minutes.

At one point a woman protesting the event and participating in the dialogue broke the tranquility with an emotional verbal outburst, but she was quickly brought to reason by colleague Tyler Fontaine, who pleaded that she not “tarnish” the peaceable assembly they had agreed upon. Well done, Tyler!

While police were in immediate presence, they played a minor role, and peacemaker Tyler took charge policing his own. It was a beautiful moment of reasoned restraint under duress.

I sought out and introduced myself to Dyshell Palmer, and our brief exchange was a personable ice-breaker, including my commending her for her peaceable assembly and leadership. For a moment we shared common ground in silence.

I struck up dialogue with others who had come in peaceful protest, and we exchanged ideas on how reasonable people disagree but can still seek the middle. The event itself was a case in point. Now ... how to build on that commonality?

My efforts at Roger Williams University to establish a First Amendment Institute for that same purpose were realized at that moment as the dialogue continued without incident. A beautiful thing.

It did not escape my notice that on this same day an op-ed piece by fellow Bristolian Stephen Brigidi appeared in the Providence Journal calling for peaceful “coexistence” in troubled times, working “cooperatively” to make the “greater good ... our mutual goal.”

While Stephen and I are good friends, we differ on some ideas, and next week we have agreed to sit together and seek more common ground over clam cakes and chowder at Quito’s. Nothing better.

I encourage others to seek out similar civil discourse, lend an open ear and find the moderate middle where bilateral progress can be made.

It can be a beautiful thing.

DeWolf Fulton
Bristol

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.