Common Sense

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By Emil Monda

I’d like to start our first column by thanking the Indy for giving a voice to “the other side.” My wife, Michèle, and I will take turns writing a bi-monthly column dealing with issues of interest to people with center to right-leaning philosophies—the “other side” of liberal Laguna.

I say the “other side” not because I believe we are on different teams. No, we have different political opinions, but the reality is we are on the same team. We all want our nation to do well. For example, everyone who needs a job and wants a job should be able to find a job which suits their abilities and provides the hope of a better future for themselves and their families. So, with that as one of many common starting points, we then try to figure out how our nation can do that in the best way possible. Of course, this is where disagreements begin.

As a businessman, I traveled to over 40 countries and dealt with people who were very different from me. Typically, I avoided political discussions. Those discussions were not going to add to the safety and security of our employees and franchisees. They probably would create some resistance to what should have been common goals. So, I stuck to this as an operating principal on all but one occasion. I was in the Middle East and one of our managers insisted on having a political discussion. This did not make for a pleasant dinner conversation. As a Republican, I found myself in the unusual position of defending President Clinton. I posited the question: “If you could get 95 percent of what you wanted, wouldn’t that be a good deal?” I outlined what the deal was. His response was that it can’t be true. This only leads to “yes, it is,” “no, it isn’t.” So, I was able to end the discussion by asking him to research it himself. I’m not sure what, if anything, he learned from me, but what I learned is that facts don’t necessarily combat hardened beliefs. We left on cordial terms and our future dealings remained cordial. We concentrated on our common objectives: keeping our employees and customers safe. So, what’s the point of this story?

Diversity. I don’t mean diversity involving race, creed or sexual orientation, because those things are pretty much a given in today’s society. By diversity I mean diversity of thought. This acceptance of diversity of thought is in danger in America today. Labels are tossed about to shut down debate. Racist. Homophobe. Or whatever label is the best way to marginalize someone we disagree with. Recently, I spoke during the public comment section of a Laguna Beach Unified School District Board meeting. I talked about diversity of thought. What does that mean? I asked a simple question at the close of my remarks: How many School Board members stopped listening to me when I started speaking and said I was president of the Laguna Beach Republicans?

Diversity is what I’d like this column to be about. To me, diversity of thought means listening to opposing viewpoints and evaluating how those viewpoints might inform our own thinking. Notice I didn’t say that agreement was necessary. Let me give you an example.

My youngest son is a graduate of Boston University, the alma mater of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. One of his professors whom I met was very much a man of the left. In his class, my son sat up front and at appropriate times engaged in spirited discussion. The professor told me that he almost never agreed with what my son had to say, but he was very complementary about the logical, respectful way he presented his ideas. My son had the same opinion of his professor. He got an ‘A’ in the course. I tell this story not because I’m bragging about my son, but rather, I’m bragging about his professor who tolerated—no, encouraged—diversity of thought as a core value.

So, as you read future columns from me, know that while I’d love converts to my message, I truly value diversity of thought. It makes us all better. I look forward to hearing from you.

Emil Monda has lived in Laguna Beach for 25 years with his wife, Michèle, and three sons. He is president of the Laguna Beach Republicans and a member of the Laguna Art Museum Board of Trustees.

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  1. Diversity. I don’t mean diversity involving race, creed or sexual orientation, because those things are pretty much a given in today’s society. By diversity I mean diversity of thought. This acceptance of diversity…..

    Hi Emil, maybe they will let me right the other “diversity of thought column”…

    for clarification…the sentence above, are you saying the acceptance of diversity involving race, creed, sexual orientations….is “given” on both the right and the left? ……. transgender military ban, muslim ban, Georgia abortion ban at 6 weeks on women’s rights….. I think it would be great if you start…not with business which having known you for years…I know you understand…but this OTHER diversity of thought.

  2. Dubious debut of ‘diversity’. Emil you claim by imminent domain the right and CENTER and toss the rest of us to the other ‘team'(??????)while claiming you are not taking sides? Double speak, dribble and divisive, not diversity. Is this what you and your wife will be offering?

    How ’bout some concrete facts? Where do you lean in respect to the TRILLION dollar deficits of the current Republican administration? Appropriating funds for detention centers where children sleep on gravel under freeways? The use of ‘religious liberty’ to deny a client services-either a wedding cake or medical care? Spending 3 BILLIOn dollars for tanks that the Pentagon did NOT want? What is your position of the current administration and the so-called ‘draining of the swamp’? Appointing an oil executive as the leader of EPA? Rolling back water and air protections all for big business? And executive of Big Pharma appointed to the FDA? A person of no ability or cognizance of public education appointed as Secretary of Education?

    And yes, we ALL do want America to succeed, to be a shinning beacon of hope, provide access to higher education(without bribes…), medical care and full employment that provides for themselves and their families.

    But cutting medical, food and housing assistance to the working or non-working poor is the Republican way.

    How will you justify these issues? I look forward to the ‘diversity’ of debate with you and your wife.

    Oh yeah, another point: equality is NOT a ‘given’ in America. Maybe in your strata of demographics…..but there are others out there much less monied than you, discriminated for their faith, skin, and love of another.

  3. The author derides labels, but in the first paragraph labels the town “Liberal Laguna”. Solid principles on display there.

    I was especially moved by the author’s declaration that, “facts don’t necessarily combat harden beliefs.” Let’s put that to the test: in the 2016 election Laguna went for Clinton by about a 53-47 margin. Which means that nearly every other person in Laguna voted for Trump. Three arch bay went for trump at 53%. Emerald Bay went Trump at 55%. Some Laguna precincts went 50-50, while others went Clinton 52 or 53%
    How’s that fact jibe with the hardened belief of Liberal Laguna? Or perhaps the label of Liberal Laguna is just thrown around by the Laguna GOP to “shut down debate”?

    It is ridiculous that in a near 50-50 community the Laguna GOP feels they need a safe space in the local paper because they lost an election 53-47.

    I look forward to the Laguna Beach Indy awarding a column to the head of the local Democratic Party in effort to have a “diversity of voices” in a town that is nearly even split along party lines. (But I ain’t holding my breath)


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