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Letters to the Editor 07/08/2015

To the Editor:

I have maintained that I wouldn't write a letter to the editor regarding my views on a paved hiking/biking trail between Sisters and Black Butte Ranch. I had shared my opinion, privately, with Commissioner Unger, family and friends but was hesitant to jump into the rancorous and vituperative free-for-all that The Nugget letters have become.

This morning, as I was mulling the meaning of Independence Day, I realized that there was a far bigger issue at stake than whether or not Sisters paves a trail in the forest.

We honor the military men and women who have given of themselves to help ensure our freedoms, but we seldom remember the responsibility each of us has to support and maintain those freedoms every single day of our lives. One of our most cherished freedoms is the freedom of speech-guaranteed to us by our founding constitution. I realized, this morning, that after 38 years of living in this beautiful community, I no longer felt comfortable expressing my views publicly. The level of animosity, name-calling and belligerence, in so many of the letters to the editor, has risen to an all-time high. The number of conscientious men and women who have decided to step down from public positions in Sisters due to negative, personalized verbal attacks is sad as well as telling.

Our freedom of speech does not give us the right to harm, belittle or stifle others' speech and opinions. It does give us the inalienable right to express our heartfelt beliefs, our ideas and our concerns in a way that allows us to be heard while not harming other's rights.

Speak the truth, speak with kindness, speak what is useful and of benefit.

Happy Interdependence Day!

Barbara Secrest

Sisters, OR.

Just for the record: I am in favor of the proposed biking trail and I would enjoy using it!