“I’ve been thinking …” – Tillamook School Board Meeting Comment Period Reveals Real Divide, Need for Dialogue

By Jim Heffernan

I have been very interested in the school board’s proposed policy of “local control”, particularly how it would apply to wearing face masks.  So I went to the Feb. 14 meeting.

I walked away from it severely shaken.  Not by the actual school board meeting.  That was fine, just like always, very professional and very organized. No, what shook me was the one hour “open mic” session that followed the meeting proper.

I guess I have been living too much in my head and my bubble and not experiencing the “real” world we live in today.

It makes me very sad that Covid seems to have split our little town into camps very much like gangland “crips” and “bloods”.  Except now we don’t use red and blue to show our allegiance, we wear masks or we don’t.  Those of us who wear mask have the battle cry of “science”.  Those of who don’t have the battle cry of “freedom”.

I am in the mask wearing “science” group.  For me it is an obvious moral and scientific choice.

I  absolutely believe that the New Testament maxim, “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is an irrefutable reason for wearing the mask.

For my science, I rely on “Scientific American”.  I was introduced to the magazine 55 years ago as a college student.  It is a publication totally dedicated to the central principle of science,  “Question everything and accept nothing without verifiable evidence.”

Opposed to my group is what I’ve come to think of as the “misinformation mafia”, the ones who are opposed to mask wearing because it infringes on their freedom.  Several of them spoke out when given a turn at the microphone.

One warned of the dangers of mask wearing because it make us breathe in too much carbon dioxide.  I guess no one has warned the millions in the medical and dental field who wear masks continuously.

Another urged us to look at both sides of the issue.  He said some get their “science” from CNN and some from Fox.  You’re not getting “science” from cable news, you’re getting a carefully calibrated message designed to tell you what you want to hear, stir you up, and inflate their advertising revenue.  He made no mention of evaluating evidence, and ended up with “do what you want”.

I would like to think the open microphone session accomplished something, but I don’t think it did.  Everybody was ready to make declarations, but there was no dialogue.

Without dialogue, I believe we are doomed to remain in our camps of resentment and distrust.  I fear our sense of unity may be slipping away from us.  What a tragedy!

I am willing to risk a dialogue in the hope we can reconcile some of our differences.  Contact Jim Heffernan at codger817@gmail.com.