PLEASE NOTE — Fair warning — this is an opinion post. The intent, as always, is to offer fodder for productive conversation; it is, however, less about business development, marketing and communication, and much more about what we value. As always, I am indebted to you for your time and interest. — EF

It is one thing to subscribe to a position because of a belief in alignment with deeply held values. Or to adopt a platform based on affinity for a cause. Or even to advocate based on an assumption that historical roots run deeper than individual predilections.

On any of these grounds, there can be a thesis and a set of guiding principles around which we could have disagreement and debate.

Remember honest debates?

Once upon a time we were able to hold opposing views, vehemently argue considered merits, and — even where there was no common ground — afford mutual respect.

There are exceptions, to be sure. We haven’t always done it well; but for the most part there used to be agreement that human decency is admirable…a characteristic worthy of pursuit.

There have always been issues viewed as critical by some and trivial by others. But there was a time when we could engage in spirited efforts to change minds…have heated conversations…fiercely disagree…without personal and lasting venom.

Those days are gone.

Today the disagreements are different.

When there is such little regard for truth that alternative facts are easily adopted…when branding a moment is so all-consuming that we lose sight of implications for tomorrow, we are no longer engaged in honest political discourse.

We should stop pretending we are.

When name-calling and finger-pointing are the hallmarks of interaction, we should admit that the conversation isn’t about framing a solution.

When words and actions precipitate division and animosity, it is impossible to believe unity is the objective.

And when thoughtful discourse on issue and policy devolves into a playground-style mocking of physical appearance or (unbelievably) a person’s handicap for the sake of attention and applause, this is no longer a discussion of the viability of neighborhoods, the safety of communities or economic strength.

Every issue is not of equal import. Some are existential.

At least one of the questions each of us must eventually answer for ourself is what do I value most.