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Stephen Phillips

Your writings and our conversations over the past several months have caused me to examine my own part in maintaining this divide. I clearly see myself as having contributed to the division.

When I hear the word, "Republican," I experience an instant visceral reaction. A cascade of labels rush through my mind which include; money obsessed, anal-retentive, tight-minded, narrow, small, and unpleasant. I want to say that up until now, I've not been able to find a way to stop this reactive stream of consciousness. This is wrong.

The truth is that I don't want to stop it. I own it. I feel terribly ripped-off by the politics of these overly righteous people - who have held sway over our republic for most of my years.

I recognize - that these people have similar reactions over my views and for the politics which I embrace.

Where I challenge your message - is in the notion that people of the right would find common ground in addressing the injustices of our land.

I suggest the 'red state' view would be what it always is. If you want justice - earn more. If you find you were born a female - prove to the market that paying you less is somehow limiting our profits, and we will pay you more. And, supporting and expanding our special interest groups, helps us to expand our hold on power - prove otherwise. The market rules and we will accept nothing less.

You will detect a taste of bitterness here and you're right.

Having said all of this: I indict the sin and not the sinner. My brother is a fairly entrenched Republican - and yet I enjoy sitting with him and discussing the politics of the day. We both surprise ourselves in the number of times we find agreement - or a way to re-define a problem such that we can find an acceptable compromise.

This becomes our task - to leave our political minds and labels at the door and embrace our humanity before sitting down to talk. To embrace our brotherhood and sisterhood. It must be conscious.

But before we start, I will insist that you admit that the word 'capitalism' does not appear even once in the Constitution.

John Renesch

Welcome, Stephen, bitterness and all. Thanks for your candor and willingness to look at your own contribution to the painful divide that exists in our beloved United States. This divide is deep and won't be healed easily, to be sure, but it starts with a willingness to engage.

Presently I am engaged with a conservative friend who consistently brands me a raging liberal. Our last email exchange was prompted by his reaction to my last newsletter editorial (http://www.renesch.com/newsletters/aha125.htm ). He sees things in my editorials that I cannot see, as if he's reading a different article!

After several exchanges, we hit an impasse which I consider a recess until it occurs to me how I can further the dialogue without pouring more gasoline on the fire. It is challenging!

But continued willingness to stand toe to toe and remain engaged - even if a recess every now and then it needed - is the only way to mend matters and heal. There's is nothing wrong with disagreement and differences. In fact differences is one of the things that makes our country great. But disrespect, arrogance, righteousness and meanspiritedness poison the well of reconciliation.

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