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City Talk Article for March 24, 2010

Article submitted by City of Sedona AZ and authored by Mark DiNunzio

Article submitted by City of Sedona AZ and authored by Councilor Mark DiNunzio

Sedona AZ (March 24, 2010) – We, as a city, are in the midst of uncertain, changing financial times that are likely to be with us for a while. And, we have a public safety issue on the table regarding nighttime pedestrian safety on State Route 89A that has triggered emotions and vigorous argument in the public arena that continues today. These two major changes are impacting us personally and as a community of folks who are blessed to live in one of the earth’s most beautiful natural places.

When change occurs, people naturally react first with confusion, then conflict, before cooperation and synergy follow. It is the process that we go through in our daily lives no matter how small the change. In the public arena, it can get louder with bigger issues and louder still as more people are impacted and involved with the change.

So, how are we doing so far with these changes? How are we handling the confusion and conflict aspect of the changes? I ask these questions of myself and of you, not from critical judgment, but rather as a neutral inquiry calling for personal reflection.

For I have found that how we handle ourselves in these matters does impact the community. Are we, you and I, part of a civil discourse or do we emotionally argue the problem?

Just what is civil discourse? What is it born of? For what reasons can it be so elusive?

These are a few of the questions that bounce around in my mind as I ponder our current state of affairs. Sounds a little ponderous, stuffy and intellectual to me. I wondered what words do resonate for me that describe civil discourse. Words came to me like respect, politeness, kindness, open-minded, and listening. I immediately realized that those attributes come from within me.

While I want those behaviors from others when we interact, discuss and debate, I truly know that I am powerless over others behavior and can only change my own. So, I looked deeper and asked myself,  “How well am I doing?”

Do I check my emotions at the door? Am I relaxed? Am I grateful to be a part of the discussion? Do I listen respectfully? Do I respect the experience of others?  Do I discuss ideas and issues?  Do I speak from experience? Do I attack and attempt to discredit? Do I offer solutions? Do I hold resentments towards those who disagree with me? Am I passionate without being hostile? Do I exaggerate or am I modest in my position?

These are but a few of the attributes and principles that I found govern civil discourse for me. Perhaps you have thought of others.  hope so.

This article submitted by the City of Sedona with the following disclaimer: This article reflects the opinion of the author and not the Sedona City Council.

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