Recently I made a new friend in California, I’ll call her Mary. She was looking for the answer to a question and one of my articles in the News and Sentinel on the topic showed up. That led to an email dialog and ultimately a Zoom call. I don’t believe in labels when it comes to people. People are complex. They can be liberal on social issues and conservative on financial issues etc. We shouldn’t generalize about any religion, race, gender or ethnic group. Mary and I probably disagree on a number of issues because of our backgrounds. We both consider ourselves environmentalists. Based on our discussions we are. Mary sent me some photos of the area around her home and the California coast. They are beautiful. I understand why Mary is concerned about the environment.
We have discussions and learn from each other. It was easy for us to find agreement on an end result, clean air, clean water, lower global emissions. No plastic waste in the oceans. Enough food for everyone. We disagree on how to get there. With honest open discussions we can find workable solutions. The extremes on any issue are suspect in my opinion. Mary understands natural gas and oil are necessary as a backup for renewables so we can have 24/7/365 electricity. Natural gas and oil make thousands of household, business and medical products we use every day and that keep people healthy and alive. Mary would like to see more renewables used and less fossil fuels.
Mary was horrified, as I was, that a forest quietly doing its job in Virginia of taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and producing oxygen was cut down and replaced with solar panels. The solar panels were likely made in China under Chinese environmental law using Middle East oil, electricity from coal and shipped over 15,000 miles to Virginia on a ship burning dirty bunker fuel. We both believe a better solution is USA made solar panels on rooftops like big box stores and factories. This puts power generation closer to its use and eliminates long power transmission lines that waste power.
We hear in the major media, we are a divided nation. I don’t believe it! Americans have always been opinionated. At Kozera family reunions, the men discussed even argued about politics and other topics. They would sometimes come to a solution or agree to disagree. Family was always more important. They may argue but always stuck together when a family member needed help or was threatened. As Americans, we need to remember we are all on the same team.
One of the managers I replaced early in my career didn’t like conflict and lacked courage. He managed by memo. Instead of directly dealing with the rule breakers like those habitually late to work he wrote a memo threatening discipline or termination. People following the rules were upset. The problem people assumed it was meant for others. This manager kept a black book with the “misdeeds” of his people. I asked. “When does the employee see this?” He responded, “When I fire him.” Before I threw the black book away I did some checking. Much of the information in it was based on inaccurate 3rd party reports or rumors. It could have been easily cleared up by talking to the employee. People need to know where they stand and how they can improve through face to face discussions. Most people change, others choose to fire themselves. The key is open discourse.
At Shale Crescent USA we don’t always agree initially. Through open honest discussions we come together with creative solutions and ideas to bring more industry to our region. That’s what leaders do. We are seeing the fruits of our work as companies from Europe and Asia are coming here. We are in discussion with other companies who are now interested.
It’s time to return to open, honest, civil discourse. It is easy to “preach to the choir”, those who agree with us. In order to solve problems, we need to work with those who may disagree with us. I did a couple of radio shows for the University of Colorado’s student radio station. They “Don’t like wells or petrochemical plants.” After our discussion the host said, “Did you hear what he just said? We like our cars, cell phones, skis and climbing ropes. Shouldn’t they be made in the USA under U.S. environmental laws, using our energy and providing jobs for us.” He understood! I had to have the courage to talk to people who probably disagreed with me. It’s important to have honest open civil discourse with those who think differently.
I saw a recent poll that said 70% of Americans believe our schools should focus more on making better citizens. Over 50% of people polled said schools should focus more on reading, writing, science and math. Only 23% thought sexual orientation and gender should have more focus. The poll showed majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents agree. At Shale Crescent USA, one of the first things companies ask after they decide to come to our region is, “Can we find capable workers?” The workers for these new high tech-high pay manufacturing jobs need to be able to read, write, understand science and do basic math. Our schools must prepare them.
A majority of Americans understand the importance preparing our young people for jobs. Education can be the issue that unites us. We can force our elected local, state and national leaders of both parties to come together on this single issue that is essential for the USA’s continued prosperity. Mary and I, with our diverse views, became friends and found common ground to work together on environmental issues. We need to choose to be leaders having the courage to act by having open honest discourse with others and work together. Thoughts to ponder.