Recent events in the country and in our town have highlighted many important issues about how we think about one another.

Among the issues is the need to value each person and to listen to people rather than turning them into someone we discount, or worse disdain, on the basis of their color, beliefs, gender, political position or even for choices they make that are different from mine.

Almost all of us have been guilty of this disdain from time to time. I know that I have been.

One of the recent community issues involves Walla Walla Police Officer Nat Small.

I do not know Officer Small because I have never talked to him. I understand that he wears a tattoo from his time as a Marine that honors his fallen friend/comrade and that, unknowingly, includes a symbol that was used by the SS during WWII. The SS did despicably evil things to Jews and others at that time. This symbol creates understandable and serious concerns.

I also understand that Officer Small, as a Marine, chose to put himself in harms way in order to try to help create a more just society in Afghanistan, particularly for women and children. This is the antithesis of the despicably evil actions of the Taliban and ISIS.

The principal people involved in this issue all have perspectives worth listening to and considering without vilification or rancor.

My encouragement at this point is for people to begin talking “to” people rather than “about” them by meeting with one another with compassionate listening.

Wouldn’t that be the best thing?

I have read that a federal lawsuit is being considered by an outside organization based on the belief that “persuasion by lawsuit” is an effective means to an end. Gandhi said that “the ends do not justify the means, rather, the means determine the end.”

One of the many great things about Walla Walla is that local attorneys generally use the means of mediation and negotiation to persuade rather than using the confrontational means of lawsuits that often seek to intimidate and threaten.

There are good people on both sides of this discussion. Because of that I believe an end result could be achieved that both parties could accept.

Wouldn’t a more reconciling means of local person-to-person conversation or mediation be more likely to produce a positive end?

Duane Lucas-Roberts

Walla Walla