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Op-ed: You can close your doors, but mine is always open

First Published      Last Updated Mar 09 2017 10:10 pm

If you never take the time to know me, I may not seem like a textbook minority. I have blonde hair, blue eyes and, perhaps above all, I am a white male. Still, at times, it feels as if I couldn't sway farther from the community in which I chose to live.

For starters, I'm non-Mormon, gay, liberal and a staunch advocate for conservation and the climate. In other words, my conservative Emery County neighbors have every reason to resent my presence in both their community and political life. Yet, in nearly 22 years of living here, I have yet to be treated with anything less than dignity and respect.



This community has laid a solid foundation of how I lead my political life and more broadly how I envision our American identity: one that is collaborative, open and unconditionally kind. At the end of the day, the election is over, and it's time for all of us to move forward, together.

I genuinely believe that the greatest source of fear and hatred is in division itself. I believe that, no matter what, we have an obligation to pave a future that works for and with everyone. I believe that hatred manifests itself in many ways and, perhaps more importantly, on both sides of the political aisle. It is your choice and constitutional right to say what you wish. For me, personally, I refuse to hurt anyone in that way or reject anyone's place at my table.

After all, I know what hatred feels like. I know what it's like to look into the eyes of someone so afraid and hateful that they are willing to kill for it. I remember having a matter of feet decide whether a bullet hit the sand or my chest. I walked away unscathed, physically, but still find myself wary of every vehicle that drives a bit too slow.

What I'm saying is that the hatred you feel, no matter who it is toward, is in you and you alone. As painful and anxious as it may be, trying to focus that energy negatively on someone else won't solve anything, nor advance your cause.

I prefer forgiveness, kindness and a willingness to work hand-in-hand for a future that works for everyone. If I ever stray from these core values, I try to remember that the single greatest act of hate against me was never done by the 11,000 people here, in my county, who disagree sharply with my values. In fact, those 11,000 people are the same ones who leave fruit and vegetables on my doorstep every summer. It is the same group of people that was not only willing but eager to help me when I was unable to walk after a climbing injury, even when I never asked.

The America I believe in is that oil worker who stopped on his way home from work to help me change a tire. It is the Trump supporter who gave me a ride home when I was stranded. It is that energy executive who opened his doors to me, and even managed to compromise, when he had no legal obligation to.

"Stronger Together" is more than a campaign slogan. It applies no matter who wins an election. You can, of course, do whatever you wish. For me, I will judge people by their actions, not their ballot. In regards to Donald Trump, you can take this letter as an invitation. My door is always open, my phone is always there. I am more than willing to hear your concerns and I, most certainly, will talk about mine.

Jonathan Bailey is a photographer with a background in archaeology, botany and conservation. He is the author of "Rock Art: A Vision of a Vanishing Cultural Landscape." He lives in Ferron.

 

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