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My View: The ends often don't justify the means

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Funny how often people can find a way to reframe their opponent's argument so that they themselves can win the moral high ground.

We are living in extraordinary times.

The country is in a culture war with itself, and increasingly people feel that war requires the use of physical force against our enemies, fellow Americans.

Don't extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures?

Yes, I think they do.

I think they call for extraordinary kindness. Extraordinary understanding. Extraordinary willingness to see a subject from someone else's perspective. Extraordinary slowness and thoughtfulness about the stories we choose to share with the world.TRIBUNE PHOTO - Shasta Kearns Moore

"Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views."

Who said that?

President Donald Trump, actually. On Twitter. The day of the Women's March on Washington.

Don't believe me? I'm not surprised. Two progressive friends on social media didn't either. They said it must be some trick.

The same thing happened a few months ago when Republican friends argued with me that Hillary Clinton didn't really support people with disabilities despite clear statements at the Democratic National Convention.

It must be some sort of trick.

Funny how often people can find a way to reframe their opponent's argument so that they themselves can win the moral high ground.

It all makes me wonder if Americans might agree with one another more than they think they do. They are just so quick these days to believe the other side is lying, so quick to agree to the frame set by a 140-character headline from their favorite news site.

At the Women's March on Jan. 21, I watched as a flood of people overwhelmed the streets of downtown Portland to peacefully and loudly say: We are united.

I'll be honest — it was incredibly inspiring.

But I also was disappointed when I talked to many people and found that their sense of unity did not include Trump supporters. Those people, fellow Americans, have now become a caricature, an other, not worthy of inclusion, not even worthy of consideration.

I have an unusual job. One that gets me outside of my bubble more than most people, even more than many other news reporters. I have spent years talking to people about complex and divisive issues — often the things that bug them the most.

Of the information I gather for a story, perhaps 10 percent of it ends up in what I strive to be a distilled and readable version of a complex truth.

Often, I then watch that truth get picked apart by online commenters who overwhelmingly prefer to cast doubt on the humanity and intentions of my sources, no matter the subject.

It is easy to cast doubt on someone's motivations. It is much harder to address their issues and experience.

From my front-row seat, what I see, the majority of the time, are flawed human beings trying to do the right thing. These people, like all people, are trying to have their thoughts match reality in a wide and varied spectrum of success.

As a journalist, I have to be skeptical that their thoughts will match up with reality. It's reasonable to wonder about where a road paved with good intentions will lead. But I rarely find people who do not believe themselves to be the heroes of their own story.

Do not forget, fellow Americans, that true heroes are defined by their actions, not their intentions.

True heroes know that the ends do not justify the means. True heroes know that in extraordinary times we must do what seems impossible: listen.

Shasta Kearns Moore is a reporter for the Portland Tribune.