A call for tolerance, gratitude, and optimism

by Assemblyman Keith Pickard

I have served as a member of the Nevada Assembly for nearly one month, representing the constituents of Assembly District 22. I feel honored and blessed to have the opportunity to serve them and all the citizens of Nevada.

Nevada is an emerging leader in the country in a number of ways, whether it is creating high paying and high quality jobs, or paving the way in innovative education that actually helps our students learn. I am proud to have played a role in helping to build on those reforms this legislative session.  I have to admit, however, I’ve also been disappointed by the defamatory remarks that too often mark the political discourse.

I write today to encourage my colleagues in Carson City, the media, and those that speak out on political issues, to use a new voice. A voice of true tolerance and appreciation for the great work done by those with whom we may disagree.

Recently, an editorial in the Las Vegas Review Journal spoke of intellectual intolerance in universities across the country. It noted that those that call for diversity in thought seem least likely of all to tolerate those of us who speak of traditional values and who don’t fit within their definition of what it means to be colorful.

We also see this venom in mainstream media. Even NPR, the former bastion of balanced, unbiased reporting, now uses harsh word choices and one-sided interviews to disparage and detract. Similar examples abound. These news outlets have become unabashed advocates of a particular side rather than reporters of facts. They focus on doubts, rather than the potential of people.

I recently read the writings of a hero of mine, Gordon B. Hinckley, from whom I borrow today. He recalled his father telling him, “Cynics do not contribute, skeptics do not create, doubters do not achieve.”

Pessimism is endemic today. We are daily fed a diet of character assassination, faultfinding, and gloom. Rather than focusing their attention on the good all around us, these purveyors of doom seek only to tear down, to disparage and complain. This sort of treatment does nothing at all to improve our state. As a wise man once said, “no misfortune is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse.”

My goal today is to call everyone to common action. To not waste time over-analyzing the past or fretting about the future. To avoid ad hominem attacks that belittle and focus our attention and our words on the issues, with suggestions for improvement. And to those that are the focus of negative speech, to persevere with an attitude of gratitude.

I am not asking for silence or that anyone should refrain from calls for correction. Strength comes with change; wise is the one who changes after making a mistake. What I am asking for is optimism. Nearly everyone in the Legislature is here for the same reason: to strive for works of good for this great state.  There is reason for optimism all around us.

So, I ask everyone to join me in an effort to elevate the conversation. The journalist Jenkins Lloyd Jones wrote, “Most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Life is like an old-time rail journey – delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”

To learn more about freshman Republican and successor of retired five-term Republican Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, read The Nevada Independent's pre-session profile.