The gold-speckled hawk cut through the still air and landed on the lowest limb of a maple tree, a fixture that was still unfurling its leafy canopy for spring’s onset. The hawk sat motionless for several seconds, offering no indication of its intentions or where it might go next. Solitary. Focused. Yet alone.

Not far away a pair of petite mourning doves stood still under the greenery of a cypress bush, hidden from the hawk. Finally, the dominating hawk dropped off the branch, revealed its massive wingspan, and powered off, scraping the blades of grass below as it disappeared into a thicket of trees and shrubs.

There is much about that hawk that mirrors society right now. Many of us are feeling solitary, unsettled and certainly not clear where our future might lead. But like the hawk, we are eager to protect our domain. It is a bit of a paradox. Self-preservation is always primary, but we live within a society that demands connectedness.

Normally in times of crisis, we find ways to solve problems in unity. That has happened during this crisis and it is refreshing. But division creeps quickly and extends its reach wide. For instance, you may believe Gov. Walz has been overstepping his authority with all of the executive orders, he’s issued more than 50 related to COVID alone, or you might be a firm believer that he has been effective in his use of science, providing commonsense leadership during this difficult period.

Knowing when to impose or lift a stay-at-home order is about as clear as Mississippi mud. But we can all agree that being confined to home was never a long-term solution. Our new normal will need to be established soon, and within the framework, it must include personal responsibility toward others.

For sure that includes all of the recommendations we’ve all quickly adopted regarding personal hygiene. Making sure our hands are clean is paramount, as it should have been prior to this. We all touch a lot of common space items during the course of the day. Making sure we are not spreading something, to the best of our ability, is not just smart, it’s a matter of public health.

But the other critical lesson of this pandemic is our attitude toward others. Our corrosive judgment must be curtailed. It is terribly unhealthy. It was scuttled initially then quickly resurrected as party lines reconstituted.

It’s OK for people to question the way the pandemic response has been handled, not just at the federal level, but also in the way our own state leaders have pivoted, adapted and executed plans. There has been a lot of conflicting information provided to the public along the way, but that is to be expected during a crisis situation. That some people are questioning that and suggesting that Big Pharma stands to gain a lot by developing a vaccine is a perfectly reasonable debate. The use of ventilators or the manner in which somebody qualifies as a COVID death are also certainly valid topics. They don’t need to be patently dismissed as conspiracy theorists. Perhaps they are simply asking questions and not finding consistent responses.

Just as it is OK to be a supporter of Gov. Walz because you believe he has been surgically-sharp with his leadership, his actions with the stay-at-home order and the closure of so many businesses to prevent a mass spread of the virus. Taking action that scientists believe will save lives is hard to criticize. Just as wearing a cloth mask may not stop all the molecules of the virus from spreading to others, but it may slow the volume or load that gets passed on to others from the mask-wearer who is a carrier. Just because somebody wears a mask does not make them a sheep who is blindly following the recommendations of the establishment.

The words “sheep” and “conspiracists” are negative connotations that need not be applied to our neighbors and friends. We are all Minnesotans trying to make good decisions, questioning those when we feel it is necessary and finding a place that we can all agree returns our home to normal.

It can all be civil without dismissive gestures and comments to muzzle half the population.

The hawk is a predator and always knows when to make his next move. It’s all about survival and self-preservation. There is some beauty in that existence. But it is also singular. The dove brings peace, calm and a sense of careful purpose.

Our existence is complex, sometimes requiring the precision of the hawk, but the presence of a dove. We rely on each other for successful government, communities and families. The sooner we realize that and appreciate the full value of everyone’s opinions, the sooner we can solve any issue, sometimes with the strength of a hawk, and sometimes through the presence of the dove. — Keith Anderson is director of news for APG of East Central Minnesota

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