Did anyone else out there catch P.O.V's documentary "The Fire Next Time" on PBS this week? It was a completely disturbing movie, and an eye opener for me. Here's the synopsis
along with other sidebar stories. The film documented two years in the Flathead Valley of Montana, watching the level of animosity grow between "environmentalists" and "loggers". I use quotation marks, because those descriptions don't really do justice to the groups, or the people caught in between. The film also looked at the role talk radio is playing in stirring up things.
I left the film with great admiration for the public officials who were willing to be verbally pummelled without lashing back, without trying to find scapegoats of their own. They were just doing their best to do their jobs. Trying to make the Flathead Valley a place where their children could grow up in peace, and prosper.
So much is going on there. Jobs vs. environment. Class warfare. Intolerance. The world of black and white and no shades of gray in between. Tom Friedman in the NY Times recently wrote about a big change
going on in another, even angrier part of the world. In looking at Israel's decision to close Jewish settlements in Gaza, he noted the rise of what he called "the resurgent center". How Israelis have finally gotten sick of the extremism of both sides, and are saying enough is enough. They've decided that eternal conflict is just no way to live.
There's a lesson in there for all of us, from the streets of Memphis to the forests of the Flathead Valley. Tone down the rhetoric. Calm down the emotions. Find the middle ground. It's time for cooler heads to prevail.