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“That night, I dreamed I came upon a Trump supporter who had died trying to repair an electrical outlet at the hotel. An angry mob approached, blaming me for the accident. Then I recognized the dead woman as a friend and fell to the ground and wept. The mob dispersed, and the dream ended.”

— Bruce Hagen, Petaluma

In my last column, I raised the question about how we could get past the contempt that is pervasive in our national discourse and enjoy, if not a rejuvenation of the Summer of Love, perhaps just a summer of civility.

The responses that I received, from all political persuasions, were thoughtful and creative if not always hopeful. They ranged from the sharing of a dream, (as noted above) to ambitious bipartisan endeavors underway in Washington and here in Sonoma County. My favorite was a concerted effort by two members of the steering committee of Santa Rosa Together — one who voted for Hillary Clinton and one who voted for Donald Trump — who have come together in an effort to seek a new path forward.

But before I share those responses, let me make something clear. This is not about acquiescence. This is not about stemming the rising tide of resistance to the current presidential administration or the outrage over the president’s personal conduct. Far from it. In fact, I find myself hesitant to even write again about the quest for civility just days after the president himself staked out new ground for incivility with his tweet attack against a talk show host who he said was “bleeding badly from a face-lift” during a visit to Mar-a-lago. Good Lord.

But that, sadly, is not likely to change. As one respondent noted, it was 18th century scientist William Curtiss who said, “It is useless and futile to try to change other people. The only person I can change is myself.”

So this is not about changing Trump. He is who he is. And he, too, shall pass. It’s about creating a better environment for how we all engage and work through our differences — if only to ensure compromise is still politically possible.

Unfortunately, compromise has become a casualty in this win-at-all-costs environment, and the result has been stagnation on a number of critical issues including infrastructure, tax reform and immigration and regression in others, including health care.

Independence Day is a good time to remind ourselves about how our founders weren’t always the models of civility. But our Constitution and, as a result, our nation, is the product of masterful yet hard-forged compromises between Anti-Federalists and Federalists — those who wanted a strong centralized government and those who favored stronger state autonomy. In many ways, these are battles that continue without respect for the fact that we all benefit from the concessions made long ago. So let’s stop pretending that compromise is synonymous with weakness rather than progress.

With that, here are some of the responses that I received.

Many said the key is encouraging people to get outside their bubbles and seek out information and people who challenge their assumptions. As Gayle Shirley of Santa Rosa noted, it’s “an inside job.”

“To move past the acrimony of our current discourse and move toward compassion, civility, and solidarity, we must each take personal responsibility to challenge our own thinking, beliefs, and behaviors,” she wrote.

David Moore of Petaluma wrote about how he encountered another dog walker one morning who assured him his black lab was friendly “as long as he doesn’t have a ball in his mouth.” This got Moore to think about “our primordial selves.”

“When we are heavily focused on our own special agenda (that ‘ball’ of some social issue we are particularly keen on) it may be that we are unable to see the bigger picture beyond,” he wrote.

But he remained hopeful. “If enough good-hearted folks seek to find that common ground with their neighbor across the fence, or across the nation, refusing to pigeonhole them into a detestable caricature, then we might have opportunity to repair the gaps, to build the bridges,” he wrote.

To others, the key was holding political leaders accountable. “We’re at a point where many, including political leaders, simply ignore laws they don’t like,” wrote Tom Gardiner of Santa Rosa. “This is something that is going on across the board, but I think left-wing Democrats carry much of the blame.”

He said political leaders also need to be held accountable for the truth. “Our whole system of justice is built on people telling the truth, and when there is no truth, the system collapses,” he wrote.

Still others believe the solution is in encouraging broader community involvement and developing a new generation of political leaders who understand the importance of civility and collaboration.

Hagen, co-chairman of the local chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, said he was at a reception in Washington, D.C., last month in which four congressional “climate heroes” were honored. Two were Democrats and two Republicans. “We need to get beyond this Hatfields versus McCoys brand of politics,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pennsylvania, one of the recipients, to “thunderous applause” from the audience. Hagen said it was after that assembly that he had the dream mentioned above.

“How do we move past this?” Hagen wrote. “I think the political must start with the personal, with a decision that becomes a habit: choose to respond with love. Equally important, join a group that has this approach as part of its DNA.”

Lawrence Lehr, a conservative, and Hank Topper, a liberal, are the two from Santa Rosa Together who have been trying to develop a plan “for restoring civility in our city and nation.”

In general, their proposal focuses on four objectives that include building “a broad multiparty movement around a shared vision for America” and working at the local level “to rebuild and empower” local communities. It also puts an emphasis on the development and promotion of new and existing leaders “who understand the need to work outside the kind of partisan politics that has helped to create our crisis.” You can check out their ideas at hanktopper.blog.

Finally, I’m thankful to the reader who pointed me toward the work of the Bipartisan Policy Center, which is encouraging members of Congress to sign a Commitment to Civility Pledge. This year’s freshman class in Congress signed the document, and others joined following the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, and others in Alexandria, Virginia, last month.

While I dislike political pledges, whether it’s to oppose tax increases or blindly commit to support special interest groups, this is one it seems we can all get behind.

In a video on his website, Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, said he knows that the pledge may be seen as purely symbolic. “But we believe there is virtuous cycle of graceful acts that can really build momentum to enable Congress to solve these bigger problems,” he said. “We believe it’s time for a summer of civility.”

Amen to that.