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Independent thought
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Dear Editor: In this climate of political polarization, with our leaders, the media, and the political parties are doing everything they can to divide, inflame, and turn us against each other. Whether we be black-white-hispanic, old-young, Republican-Democrat, gay-straight, Christian-not... we need to begin to think for ourselves. We need to let go of personal prejudices, and recognize we will survive as neighbors, or not at all. I urge everyone not to let a political party or the media do your thinking for you. Each of us knows the difference from right and wrong, common sense and non-sense. We can hold a basic standard of ethics against the rhetoric and propaganda to determine truth.

The Rockdale Republican Party would impose their brand of social conservatism upon us all. In this highly judgmental agenda of "morality," one is considered godless and immoral if you disagree, and subject to ridicule. The Democrats have bought into an agenda of "equal distribution" where your shrinking wealth is confiscated to support an ever increasing population of non-producers, with the government intent on imposing its idea of your "fair share." Is any of this freedom?

I question if the government can effectively legislate charity any better than morality. In the meantime, our country goes bankrupt, corruption is rampant, and our taxes continue to rise here in Rockdale.

It occurs to me that we need an alternative to the local political parties, where concerned citizens traditionally have gone to work for their values and express their political views. Both the Rockdale Republican and Democratic Parties are governed from outside our county, with a top-down organization that has nothing to do with our local circumstances. They both have grown more closed and restrictive. Recently, the Republican Party closed its meetings to non-members, and the Democratic Party has its own way of turning out non-conforming members. Neither Party is working for this community; it's all about amassing support for their vaguely stated, top-down, power agendas. Candidates, forced to run as one or other, must choose, but their views often have little to do with the party banner they are running under. Your voice is not much wanted, but your money is always welcome.

Where is the voice for those of us who by the sheer force of common sense and innate human compassion must reject these extremes? We, whose faith informs our views, but who refuse to dictate those beliefs on others through government and whose compassion for those truly in need is thwarted by the government free-for-all to provide for anyone with their handout. We set limits and boundaries for ourselves and our children, should we expect less from our local and national governments?

In an effort to provide alternatives, give voice to all people of good faith, and provide a venue for all viewpoints to come together in a respectful environment for discussion and understanding, a place to begin to heal those divisions, Mrs. Josie Dean, (of BOC fame) and I, Sharon Pharr (of no particular fame) have partnered to begin a group to that end. Our hope is to bring people together, to hear different viewpoints without the filter of a party or media, to begin to understand each other. And once an understanding has been begun to be achieved, to examine and hold our local governments accountable to the whole of Rockdale, where our community comes first, and personal and political agendas are exposed. We all want the same things, prosperity, opportunities for our children, safety in our homes and businesses, we may not agree on how best to achieve that, but we are more alike than different.

We invite you to join us on the third Saturday of each month, beginning on February 18, at the Johnson Park Art Room, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., to begin to unite Rockdale as neighbors.

Sharon Pharr