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A plea for civility in the New Year

Listen. I can use a calendar as well as you. Maybe.

In any case, I acknowledge that Christmas is over, but just the same, I am asking Santa (or whoever else I might get to deliver it) for one more thing.

Here’s what I want, and I want it not just for myself, but for my friends and acquaintances at work, in my personal life, at church, on Facebook, on Twitter, in the paper and anywhere else where people might share their opinions.

So here it is. As we stagger forward into the New Year, a New Year that will include what is very likely to be a hotly contested, contentious and probably mean-spirited presidential election, I am making a plea for — at least here in Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Sherwood — a modicum of civility. Miles Vance

Like you, I have opinions on many things. Politics is absolutely one of those things on my list that I often feel strongly about and occasionally feel knowledgeable about.

That said, as we work our way through the next 11 months of politicking, I vow to express my opinions in civil fashion.

While I have much interest in the upcoming presidential election, I promise that, when I share my thoughts in any public venue, I will do so without calling names, without questioning motives and without impugning character.

As to my personal presidential predilections, I may share those with family and friends or even on Facebook, but I’m not going to tell you what they are in the paper because: a) my paper is locally rather than nationally focused; and b) what do you care what I think?

Part of that choice is related to my long career in journalism — we’re supposed to give at least the appearance of being unbiased, right? But a greater part of it comes from my own experiences with others who aren’t bound by the restraints of civility.

By the way, I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t share our opinions. I love hearing and reading what people agree with, what they don’t and the “why” behind those opinions. Indeed, the better informed we are — and part of being well informed involves hearing opinions different from our own and weighing their merits — the better chance we have to make wise voting choices.

Indeed, I love it when readers share their opinions with the paper in the form of letters to the editor or Soapboxes (longer reader opinion pieces). So I want speech. Lots of it. And I want strong opinions backed up by facts.

What I don’t want, however, is name-calling, vitriol, accusations, character assassination etc.

As to my opinion, if there is a point at which I choose to share my views, I will do so without calling one candidate or another — or any of their supporters — a liar, a traitor, a homophobe, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe, an Islamaphobe or a bigot.

What I think may have some importance in the world — though I’m not 100 percent convinced of that — but what I am convinced of is that my opinion is unlikely to make you change yours. So, if I choose to spout off about it at some point, I’m going to do so (hopefully) without alienating either friends or acquaintances. And as challenging as this might sound, I would encourage you to do the same.

Facebook, by the way, is a great microcosm for all of this. I can tell you that between my high school friends on Facebook (who, in general, tend to be more conservative) and my Beaverton-area friends on Facebook (who generally lean to the liberal), there is a relatively great divide.

While I don’t agree with all the opinions I see, from either side, many are well thought out and most are at the very least passionate. In any case, I can tell you without fear of contradiction that none of them will change my mind about who I think ought to be our next president.

In equal measure, I am certain that my well thought out, exhaustively researched and 100 percent correct opinions will not change yours.

So to wrap things up, here’s who I think you ought to be our next president — never mind. It’s none of your business and who you want to be president is none of mine.

But if you really, really feel the need to share, try to be nice.