I am a 69-year-old retired teacher. Retirement allows me to spend hours every day phoning and writing to our legislators and visiting their local offices. Some politicians are using the label “paid left-wing extremist” for those of us doing this work.

 

I am unpaid, and I represent no organization. My concerns are not extreme.

They’re based on a value that most of us share: passing on to our children a livable world in which they can thrive. Our children deserve clean air and water.

Former President Richard Nixon created the EPA. And another past president, Ronald Reagan signed the Montreal Protocol to phase out chlorofluorocarbons.

Reagan’s work on acid rain was later implemented by former President George H.W. Bush, who also strengthened the Clean Air Act.

Care for creation has biblical roots. The Book of Genesis begins with the creation declared “very good.” Stewardship is an imperative. In the story of Noah, every species is preserved.

Care for creation also makes good economic sense. Florida’s economy depends on tourism and agriculture. Neither is viable without a healthy aquifer and clean air. As of January, wind and solar jobs were growing 12 times faster than the overall U.S. economy.

Conservation is conservative in the deepest sense — to conserve.

Even while agreeing on our children as priority, many would disagree with me on specific policies.

Good. That is democracy.

There’s too much at stake for us not to be talking with one another.

It’s hard work — listening with enough care to burrow down to the values we share, slowly and carefully finding common ground, slowly and carefully seeking ways to build together.

Name-calling deflects our energy from that necessary hard work.

Divisiveness is too easy. It’s cheap political fuel that serves us ill.

We need to hold our legislators to a higher standard, and we need to set a better example ourselves, daily reaching out to our neighbors, listening for the concerns of one another’s hearts, exploring differences with genuine curiosity and building on every precious tidbit of commonality we can find.

Nancy-Laurel Pettersen,

Jacksonville