joan duffyI rarely if ever write about anything political, especially in today’s highly-charged atmosphere. In my mind, everyone is entitled to their opinions and I respect that.  I’m not comfortable arguing that MY opinions are better or more true than YOUR opinions mostly because there is a chance that MY opinions may be wrong.

But it is time for a little story about my mother. At age 76, she called me one evening and said that she had decided to run for mayor in her little town.  I asked if I could talk her out of it.  She won by a narrow margin on a solid platform and put that platform in place upon taking office.  She worked hard, dedicating herself to this small community.

One plank in her platform was controversial – I honestly don’t remember what it was – but after almost a year in office, the evidence was clear – she was on the wrong side of the issue. At a council meeting one night, she explained her change of heart, apologizing to those who voted for her based on this issue, and then briefly explained her new position. She also explained WHY she changed her mind, and told everyone that while her position had changed, she remained dedicated to doing the best job possible with the welfare of the residents and visitors as her top priority.

There was, as you could imagine, some grumbling. But – she actually was on the wrong side on this issue, and she was able to eventually win back most of the grumblers with honesty and clarity. After one term, she stepped aside and life went on.  The town was better, though, for her being there.

Mom was involved in town life for years before the election.  She was a major player in drafting the town’s first Comprehensive Plan.  She got government grants for revitalizing an old building and turning it into City Hall.  She was active in civic groups and social groups.  Her insights into how the world worked was impeccable, but she also knew that everyone had the right to view the world from their own unique eyes.  All from a woman who never set foot in a college classroom.

It’s a shame that today it seems that we are 1) discouraged when wanting to express our own opinions with friends, family or in public and 2) seemingly not allowed to change our minds in the face of credible evidence.  We are afraid to offend, afraid to disagree, afraid to voice our own viewpoints.

My mother was a courageous mayor in her little corner of the world. She had an opinion and then publicly changed it – and announced it – when she found that the evidence showed she was wrong. Why can’t anyone else in government do this??  I’m confused.

I sure wish that Mom was still here to explain it to me.