Welcome, 2020!

Depending on how you choose to count, it’s either the last year of the 2010s or the beginning of the 2020s. In either event, we’ve arrived at a pivot year, where we bid farewell to one decade and begin our journey through another.

We have wishes aplenty for this new year. We want leaders in Topeka and Washington, D.C., to work together for the common good. We hope voters educate themselves and make the best choices possible in the primaries and general elections. We will continue to call for transparency and setting aside rank partisanship.

But all of these wishes can perhaps be boiled down to a single, overriding concern.

We hope and pray for respect in 2020.

That’s right: respect. Not “civility,” which has perhaps become tattered and gray through overuse and misunderstanding. Too often that word has become a tool of the powerful calling on those with less power to sit down and be quiet.

No, what we need as we plunge into a year that promises political explosions aplenty is respect. That means that we understand that disagreements will occur. We understand that debate will occur and passions flare. We understand that there will be ultimately be some positions and candidates that prevail and some that fall short. But we never lose sight of the humanity of those we oppose, and we are willing to grant them time and space to make their case.

We can respect those with whom we disagree. We can even respect those who we feel would take our city, state or nation in the wrong direction. We can respect them because we are all people who share similar goals. We want the best for our families and communities. We want the best for Kansas and the United States.

We want a system that rewards hard work and initiative while helping those who need it.

We will disagree on how we accomplish those goals. Some will see a prominent role needed for government. Some won’t. Some will highlight systemic concerns and histories of disinvestment or oppression. Others will highlight the ability of individuals to transcend all that through dedication and talent.

But we can accept and respect these disagreements. That doesn’t mean we promote the other side’s stances. That doesn’t even mean we have to engage them in debate. But it does mean we accept their right to participate in the public square and the right of the public to listen.

If we don’t have a healthy marketplace of ideas, in which various proposals and ideologies can be chewed over through robust discussion, we don’t have a functioning democracy. Respect for others simply means we accept and participate in that public square and that we recognize the right of others to do so.

In 2020, then, let’s all dedicate ourselves to robust discussion, always undergirded with respect for those with whom we disagree.