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This month's mailbag includes readers' thoughts on political protests, mask-wearing and more.

We should shout less and listen more

In his disturbing report on political protests in Sherwood, the Gazette's Ray Pitz reported, "But with just the two lanes of Main Street separating them, (the two groups) spent most of their two hours trying to shout down one another." He went on to report, "One man at the All Kids Matter rally was equipped with a megaphone. He spent nearly the entire event speaking though the megaphone rallying the All Kids Matter side of the crowd and criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement and 'socialist' opponents."

Just the other day, my friend, noted author and TED Talk celebrity Julian Treasure declared, "The sound of democracy is silent listening." You can't do that through a megaphone.

Read our July 11, 2020, report on protests outside the Sherwood School District offices.

Mr. Pitz put his finger directly on the heart of the problem. Both sides of any political debate these days are just shouting slogans at each other across a thin — increasingly threadbare — ribbon of yellow police tape. Democracy doesn't work that way. Democracy is not "rule by the loudest."

The left is seldom perfect. The right is seldom perfect either. Since the founding of this nation, since the very drafting of our Declaration of Independence, our national strength has been our ability to fine the best answers somewhere in the middle. And we have done that by long tradition of constructive, considerate debate including a lot silent, respectful, and open-minded listening. It's the very sound of democracy.

Following a scientific conference, Albert Einstein was approached by an woman who complained, "Professor Einstein, I came to hear you speak and you hardly said anything." His reportedly replied, "Woman, I find that when I'm talking, I'm not learning." It's hard to learn through a megaphone.

Thankfully, while doubtlessly unproductive, Sherwood's protests remained peaceful.

Sherwood is a very educated and intelligent community full of smart people. I urge all of my fellow Sherwood citizens to put down your megaphones — whether literal or figurative — and practice traditional American democracy by listening quietly, respectfully — even with a genuine curiosity — to what others who don't hold your beliefs are saying. Maybe you might even learn something.

Chuck Gollnick, Sherwood

What sort of people will we be?

I spoke recently to an elderly resident who moved to Sherwood from Portland to be closer to her family. She would like to go for walks and shop in a grocery store. Not unreasonable. But she cannot because people walk on the sidewalks and outside grocery stores — with no masks. Let's think of her when we vote this November.

November is a choice between two major political parties with two competing creeds. One is, "We're in this together." That party knows that failing to superbly educate all our children, or curb carbon emissions, or provide affordable healthcare for all, puts each of us at risk. Its elected representatives respect and listen to all voices in the community. And, yes, they wear masks.

The other major party's creed is, "Everyone for himself" — cut taxes on the wealthiest and regulations on big business, ignore experts, demonize Portlanders and foreigners, and shut down our democratically elected Legislature. They preach their right to not wear a mask in public.

Sherwood, let's look after our new neighbor. Wear a mask, politely ask our neighbors to wear a mask, and vote for Democrats this fall.

John Vandenberg, Sherwood

House candidate Stevens has leadership chops

A vote for Peggy Stevens is the the best choice in a statewide race. [Ed.: Stevens is running for state representative in House District 26.] She has been a voice in the Sherwood community for many years. She was a great school board member in Sherwood. She is supportive of many changes and improvements and works well with others. This is a time we need her more than ever.

Dedicated to make our community safer and better is a theme she reflects in every action she is involved with. I urge every voter to make sure she is elected.

Sherwood is such a great community that has benefited from the leadership of Peggy Stevens.

Gary Langer, Sherwood

Neron's tax-and-spend record is out of step with constituents

Our own Oregon state representative, Courtney Neron, voted for $3 billion in new taxes last year. The crown jewel of Neron's taxing spree was a new $2 billion tax on Oregon sales. And this was when our state had more of our money than anytime in state history.

Our local families are paying a new hidden sales tax during COVID when we can least afford it. And Rep. Neron refused to pause the new $2 billion tax before it went into effect despite pleas from our local business owners.

Things we all buy at Target, Home Depot, Al's Garden or even your carpet cleaning service, dentist and doctor visit, are more expensive because of this tax. Yes, even diapers, medicine, and Clorox wipes. Even our local, family-owned toy store in Sherwood is subject to this new tax. Construction projects for our local schools now cost more because construction companies are adding the tax into the project cost.

When you're at the store, this tax isn't listed on your receipt. The new tax on Oregon sales is just built into the new higher prices we all pay.

We didn't elect Rep. Courtney Neron and pay her new state salary to vote to make things more expensive for us.

She also voted to take over $100 million from our kicker tax refund so our local families have less money when they need it most during COVID.

If that wasn't enough, Rep. Neron just voted for a new cellphone tax this summer. When will it end?

When I discuss this with friends, too many are not aware of this new tax on Oregon sales. We're all paying for Rep. Courtney Neron's taxing spree.

Dana Crocker, Sherwood

A 10-year-old's thoughts on distance learning

Here's how I feel about distance learning. Hi, I'm a fifth-grade student at Deer Creek Elementary School starting a weird year with COVID. I worry if distance learning will make me ready for the future. Will I be ready for middle school next year? Who knows — this situation we're in with the coronavirus is stupid, because in other countries like Canada or China, things are not as bad. It should not be this bad for us here.

There are some kids I never saw in our class meetings last spring. They seemed so happy at school. I imagine this is a big hit to them. I liked the online meetings with my teacher. I just wish they could be longer, maybe 45 minutes. More chances to talk with other kids would be nice because I haven't done that in a long time. Math is hard to do on tablets.

I remember when the people were out protesting for teachers. Protesting is great, but if we can skip it by solving the cause, that's better. Courtney Neron is a caring teacher and mom, and I think a teacher/mom would bring the right attention to make online schooling better.

Dutch Harrington, Bull Mountain

Criminals who wear body armor would be punished elsewhere

Antifa is wearing ballistic vests in the Portland riots.

Tennessee, Florida and many other states have laws against commission of a crime while wearing body armor. Oregon has zero!

David Runyon, King City

Think globally, act federally

We focus on the pandemic's impact on our community, our family and friends, and ourselves — as we should. It's vital that we practice social distancing and wear masks.

But we can't completely escape the COVID virus unless a global strategy is enacted. The virus has spread globally, and it must be harnessed on a global scale by bolstering worldwide health initiatives.

It's important that Oregon's seven federal legislators put their full support behind effective programs like the Gavi vaccine alliance and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Kip Phelps, Tigard


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