Guest column: Let’s find a place to connect

When our nation is confronted with hard topics, our new tendency is to fight about it, writes Elizabeth Cogliati.

Most people don’t like change. Some people are more attached to it than others. Sometimes, change can provoke a reaction of fear in a brain. Fear of the unknown, fear of losing power, fear of not going to heaven.

It’s okay to be afraid, it’s okay to hate change. But when that fear and hatred comes out of you and into the world, that is not okay.

John Pavlovitz says it better than I can in his blog post, “Life is Short. People are Hurting. Don’t be a Jerk.”

“Life is stunningly short and it is eggshell fragile. Most people are having a really tough time. They are almost always in more pain than you think they are. The only thing these wounded and weary human beings need from you as you share this space with them—is for you not be a jerk.

“Don’t impose your religious beliefs on other people. Don’t demand that they adapt to your preferences of identity or orientation. Don’t try to take away things that keep them physically healthy or give them peace of mind or allow them access to education or opportunity. Don’t put obstacles in a parent’s way of caring for their children or working to support them or guiding them safely into adulthood. Don’t tell people who they can marry or how they should worship or where they can call home. Don’t do things that make them more vulnerable to sickness and sadness and stress. Don’t try to keep people from having things that you take for granted.” Read Pavlovitz’s full post at

These are terrifying times we live in. Every day seems to bring more distressing news. The children are even rising up and demanding change after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The temptation is to curl away from the world and lash out at everyone and everything that is unfamiliar.

We cannot do that. We must find our center and connect. There is much we agree on, even as we disagree, and we are stronger together. We live in one of the greatest countries in the world, but we are being weakened by our divisions.

However, coming together does not mean that one side gets to say, “This is what we all believe now.” No. We are a great country because we have many points of view and a diversity of beliefs. We must find a way to fit our beliefs together, to find the beliefs we share, even though we might use different words, and include everyone.

This is hard and challenging work. None of us can do it alone. We must work together to save our country.

Cogliati has lived in Idaho Falls since 2004. She is an artist and a mother of two, and is very involved with the Unitarian Universalist Church. She volunteers on several local boards and is the founder of Idaho Falls Progressives.