Athens had Socrates. Eden Prairie has Rick Wall.
Plato said Socrates described himself as a “gadfly” sent to torment the people of Athens by asking uncomfortable questions and goading the citizens into self-examination. Eden Prairie has Wall’s April 21 “Sure is a lot of Paulsen Bashing” letter. In it Wall asked where the “concerned citizens” have been for the “last eight years” and questioned their motivation for “crawl(ing) out of the woodwork like termites in the spring to bash U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen.”
The answer, I think, is Mr. Paulsen’s ideology is impacting human dignity. No political party Republican, Democrat, Independent, nor religious tradition, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, indigenous can make a claim on a final definition of human dignity.
Individual and culture perspectives on what is the “right and good” in human experience are simply too vast and too varied. That is why we teach our children it is important to listen to people, even people you disagree with.
That is not to say all values or perspectives are equal. They’re not. Values promoting human dignity, freedom, justice, and compassion take precedent across all the ideologies and religions noted.
But active listening and respecting the dignity of others is not what Paulsen’s lack of engagement with those who disagree with him and a 100 percent Trump agenda voting record indicates.
Paulsen’s 100 percent Trump-agenda voting record is following political ideology, not listening to the people of his district. In fact, by actively “not listening” Paulsen demonstrates a willingness to dismiss the dignity of those who disagree with him. No one expects Paulsen to always agree with his critics. However, by disagreeing 100 percent of the time and not listening he has brought, as Wall’s letter notes, the “rants” upon himself.
Socrates warned Athenians of politicians who believed they were untouchable and unaccountable. Socrates warned of hubris. Wall also sounded a kind of “wake up” warning too and we’re better for it.
Why? Because the citizenry of Eden Prairie is participating in a “politicized” national and worldwide conversation. How that conversation happens in Eden Prairie matters. A lot. Eden Prairie has a leadership role in demonstrating the best example of taking on the big “themes” of the day. Is that happening? Do people care? Do politicians listen or dictate? Is human dignity or is ideology determining what decisions are made?
Policy decisions on health care, immigration, military conflict, election meddling and ethics are matters of consequences involving human dignity, not merely ideology. If a dismissal of dignity results in people “crawling out of the woodwork,” so be it and good for it.
A variety of perspectives should be listened to and represented. In these uncertain times, Eden Prairie citizens and of the 3rd District deserve representation that is listening, big-hearted, and inclusive. Not the narrowness of 100 percent Trump agenda voting record, hiding behind vague and false “Gee, I don’t know what I’m going to do” media statements and unwillingness to listen to regular people with deep concerns — not just about ideology — but about human dignity.