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A Drop of Ink

Lead Summary

By Reed Anfinson, Publisher
Finding compassion even as we disagree
Where many will see the worst elements of our national political climate in the AP story, “In one small prairie town, two warring visions of America,” that was published across the country last week, we see the potential for the best of small towns to emerge.
It might surprise our readers that we had a heartfelt conversation with Pastor Jason Wolter last Friday. Though we have some fundamental differences in our outlook on political and social issues, we can rise above those differences to still respect one another. We can still be good neighbors in the best sense of the word.
Associated Press reporter Tim Sullivan’s story could have been written about thousands of other communities in America. There is nothing unique in our divisions in western Minnesota; they are repeated everywhere across the country. Perhaps, we were fortunate in that it was written about ours. Its publication makes us ask, “Is this who we are?” Unfortunately, to some degree, it is. The lesson to take away is that we have work to do. In building the lesson plan to address our divisions, perhaps we can heal them and become an example to communities everywhere.
There has been sadness expressed by the community’s former residents who have read the story, seeing in it a disheartening change in the place of their childhood. Though we romanticize about our hometowns, the disappointment can’t all be attributed to idyllic memories of simpler times in our lives.
Social issues such as abortion, gun rights, immigration, the rights of LGBTQ citizens, and voting rights have split us into warring camps. The COVID-19 pandemic with its vaccination and mask mandates has accelerated and deepened resentments. The internet and social media, with their false information and intentionally misleading rumors, have created an alternate and deadly reality.
How do we get to the time when we can discuss issues to broaden our knowledge rather to score points and reinforce already closely held beliefs? How can we free ourselves prejudices and misconceptions as we seek to moderate and inform our thoughts?
In our reporting on COVID-19, we rely on facts from respected sources of medical research, practice, and data collection such as the Mayo Clinic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) and the Minnesota Department of Health.
When questions are raised about COVID-19 on deaths, or the safety of vaccinations, the facts are clear. The CDC reports that only two to five people out of 1 million who receive the vaccine have an allergic reaction to it, and most recover quickly. The possibility of deaths of people who have received the vaccine was put at 0.0018%, but in many of these cases, it was not provable that the vaccine was the cause.
When billions of people receive a vaccine, some have heart attacks or strokes not long after, but not because of the vaccine. According to the American Heart Association, someone has a heart attack every 40seconds in the U.S.
By printing false information that would lead some to not get vaccinated, we would take responsibility for the consequences.
If you take to heart the criticisms of our coverage of agriculture mentioned in the AP story, you will think we constantly bash those essential to the economy of rural communities. We do express concern about the quality of the water in our streams and lakes and support buffers strips. We do worry about the purity of the water in aquifers from which we draw our drinking water. We do have concerns about the capacity of our aquifers as an increasing number of farm irrigation wells are drilled to sustain crops in a warming world.
We’ve written about the need to protect our pollinators and the importance of preserving wildlife habitat.
We support sustainable farming practices that will benefit our rural communities for generations to come. Many farmers we know share these concerns and goals.
We also report on conservative perspectives. District 17A State Rep. Tim Miller, Prinsburg, one of the Legislature’s most conservative members, and Republican Sen. Torrey Westrom, District 12-Elbow Lake, were both recently featured on the front pages of our newspapers.  We wrote the stories. We’ve carried their columns.
We have always asked for, and continue to seek, letters from our readers giving us their points of view. If you don’t agree with us, please write us to add your voice to the conversation. We will publish your thoughts. If you do write, know your facts. We don’t publish provably false information. We can disagree on principles but not mislead with false data.
We would like to think of ourselves as a moderate whose outlook in life has been tempered by reality and a core belief that our representative democracy is founded on people of diverse views being able to compromise. We believe in fiscal responsibility shaped by compassion and inclusivity for those who make up the broad spectrum of American society.
Our columns are written based on hours of background reading, research, and discussion. We would challenge anyone to find a lie in what we write.
If we can plant the seeds of empathy and compassion in our columns, we can build the foundation for a civil and healthy society.
In our reporting on public bodies and our communities, our goal is to inform citizens to make the decisions required of them in a representative democracy.
One last comment about the article: While we grew up in Benson hunting with family and friends in the fall, we don’t have our grandfather’s Model 97 Winchester 16-gauge pump hanging on the wall in our office. We don’t wear our father’s High Standard Military HD pistol from his time as an officer in the U.S. Air Force at our side. Though we’ve had our life threatened a few times, we don’t feel the need to be armed.

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