Recently, I was on a trip to the Midwest to see family and I had the chance to enjoy some music on the drive.
One song in particular spoke to me as I traveled. “Stranger” by the Subdudes came on, and I have to admit I played it on repeat a few times. It resonated with me so powerfully because it related to our political climate today and also to my work at the Ignacio Library.
Some of the lyrics ask questions that I think need to be asked today: “Why do you treat me like a stranger ... why is it hard for you to talk to me ... why do you treat me like a danger ... when do we try to see eye to eye ... when do we try to put hate aside.”
It seems to me in this day and age, we need to have some lessons in civil conversations, civil in both senses of the word: polite and courteous and regarding regular citizens. As a follow-up to Shelley’s article last month about the role of libraries and democracy, I’d like us to think for a moment about libraries and civil conversations.
In Ignacio, I see the library as a place where diverse peoples come together to connect and share stories, to dialogue about troubling issues, to find information about said issues and to listen and be heard sharing their own points of view.
I’d also like to think this is a part of everyday life in our country, but I know that’s often not true.
As we come together again to vote, and as there is so much opportunity for dissension, disagreement and disharmony, I believe our libraries can be a refuge from the battle of words and rhetoric and be a place where sober-minded folks can find a peaceful place to get away from the onslaught.
At the same time, I would remind people that libraries can provide a forum for thoughtful, quiet conversations among friends and neighbors, even occasionally looking toward finding solutions.
I hope our community members look to libraries throughout the country and specifically the three libraries here in La Plata County and recognize that they are places to dialogue with kind and friendly faces all the while finding the freedom to disagree.
Again, in the words of the Subdudes: “Where is a quiet place we can go, where we can sit down and chew the fat?”
Marcia Vining is library director at Ignacio Community Library.