Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Civility is Sorely Lacking


I have been pondering something of late.  You constantly are bombarded with the politics of hate.  The left says it comes from the right, the right says it comes from the left.  When are just going to admit it comes from both sides? 

In the past 18 months I have gotten very involved in The Tea Party movement and I have started blogging.  Both of these activities have put in me in touch with people that I have never actually met, but have contact with through a variety of sources. 

Over the past few days I have several odd things happen and it got to me to thinking.  The reason that I have gotten involved in all of these things is to improve the state of this country.  I do truly believe that America is at a crossroads.  Will this country follow it's original creed of individual liberties or will we head towards  becoming a more socialist country?  I choose the former, some choose the latter. 

I don't agree with socialist type policies, I do believe that they are damaging people, even if the original intention is to help.  The question becomes how do we go about having this very important discussion in this country?  Sadly, there are many that refuse to accept that there are forces in this country that want to turn this country into a socialist nation, even after hearing Lawrence O'Donnell the other day.  He flat out said that he is socialist and he realizes that in order to further his agenda he must put in moderate politicians that will be hijacked by the far left to further the policies he agrees with.  People will just dismiss this as one or two people that have no real power.  Regardless of what we have witnessed in the past two years, and disregard the facts that we have 70 members of congress that are also members of the socialist party

In order for these forces to be stopped what we need is discussion.  I prefer to have rational discussion.  I sometimes find myself getting very weary of the name calling that goes on.  Since this odyssey has begun for me I have been called  a racist, astro-turf, and a tea bagging dangerous bitch; among other choice names.  Now, I know myself well enough to know what the truth is.  I have done the examinations of my life.  I am secure in who I am and what I believe.  This is not to say that I don't have plenty to learn nor does it mean I can't change my mind about things.  I also know that people are not going to agree with everything that I believe in.  Life would be pretty boring if we did.  I also realize that the name calling is dangerous.  It is dangerous mainly because it shuts down additional speech and thought.  It is done to shut out discussion. 

On my way home on the train the day of the Jon Stewart rally I was speaking to different people to get an idea of why they attended.  One couple told me that most of the hate comes from the right but were saddened to see the Hitler mustaches on a Jewish congressman.  Another woman told me she had to come to give a different message from the hate she saw when she watched the Glenn Beck rally in August.  Now, I was at the Beck rally and I didn't hear anything that could remotely be considered to be hateful.  This made me question if she actually watched it.  I asked her what he said that was so hateful and she couldn't give firm examples. 

In the past few days I have had some unusual experiences.  Actually, they are not so unusual.  I was sent something via facebook instant messaging that had many recipients.  It was a video with a Hitler parody.  I personally don't find these funny.  I don't like Hitler references no matter who does them.   I politely asked the person who sent it to not include me in the future on these type of videos.  The replies that I got back were amazing and hurtful.  I was called names; such as traitor and also told I was stupid. 

I had a similar experience with another person when I made a comment on a thread about an article on Sarah Palin.  I didn't say anything about Gov. Palin, I made a comment only on the reliability of the source in the article.  It was not sourced and it was a friend of friend.  I was told I must be jealous of Gov. Palin.  Really?  Although I have met her on several occasions, I can't say that I know her.  Also, I wouldn't want my life put out there in the way hers is, so no, I am not jealous.  But this particular person follows Gov. Palin so intently that he can't stand anyone saying anything that may even slightly disagree with the point he is making about her.  I guess she is the only person on earth that can save this nation in his mind.  He is a blind follower of hers, something that we saw way too much of several years ago when Obama was running.  There is not a difference between these groups of people, they just worship a different person, but it is blind worship all the same. 

My next experience was about the death penalty.  I am not believer in the death penalty.  I can give very well thought out reasons for my beliefs.  I also am willing to listen to other people's reasoning for being an advocate of it.  What I am not willing to do is be called names because I happen to disagree.  Needless to say I have been going through a pruning process on who I communicate with over the past few days.  I have this feeling this post may prune them even further. 

Don't get me wrong, the vast majority of people that I have met through this process are kind, decent, hard working people who believe that our country has gotten off track.  But, my question is how are we going to change that if we can't have a conversation and exchange ideas if we can't have a five minute conversation without it reverting to a vile name-calling session? 

The reality is that we have to make the decisions about which direction we are going to take.  We cannot do that if we constantly calling each other names and not having conversations about belief systems.  No one is wrong or right 100% of the time.  It is high time that we stop pretending that they are.  The most important thing that we have to do in this country is to get the people who don't really pay attention to pay attention.  The fastest way to turn people off is to call them names and to exhibit the exact same behavior that we accuse the "other side" of engaging in.  We end up solving nothing and not drawing more people into the conversation.  Right now we need to engage people and exchange ideas. 

When I got involved in this movement it was very important to me that we stand for something, not just be against something.  If you really want to prove that you are better than the "other" side, than shouldn't you actually be better than them?  I truly believe in the more traditional view of this country.  I also truly believe that the arguments can be won without referring to name calling and personal attacks.  Our society has degraded enough, we don't need to add to it. 

I just needed to get that off my chest. 

3 comments:

Deekaman said...

You are correct. The dialog has become much more coarse over the last 50 years. Or so it seems. In part, it comes because that is how people in our society treat each other. I'd also (at the risk of making excuses) argue it started (at least in earnest) with the Left during the 1988 Democrat National Convention with Ann Richards and her "Where's George" speech and the destruction of Dan Quaile. It can also be argued it goes back farther than that.

What is more disturbing to me, though is that Conservatives have started to do the same over the past couple years. With the more organized and connected Conservatives, and the greater interaction, on blogs and news site commentary, we saw first, in-kind responses ("You're a stupid hater". "No, YOU'RE a stupid hater".). Now there tends to be that type of flame throwing from both sides. I've been guilty of it. I can tell you from my own experience that it comes from my frustration with making rational arguments to what appear to be irrational people.

This weekend, I commented on a blog listing my reasons for doubting (alleged) Anthropogenic Global Warming. Some responded wanting to know my reasons for being a "denier", among other perjoratives. After going back-and-forth a couple times attempting to have a dialog, I just got tired of it and quit responding. It really is maddening. "Deniers", "Teabaggers", "stupid", and the ever popular "racist-sexist-homophobe" are just some of the terms I have been subjected to for the 30 years I've been an out-of-the-closet Conservative.

Any wonder sometimes I respond in kind?

Americana Lady said...

Kim, this is a very well written post. I believe we all need to be kinder to each other. It is not the thoughts but the delivery of them that makes the difference. Keep your flag a wavin' Joan

hometown guy said...

well said. this is one of the reasons your blog is important. it's one of the only places online i can engage in debate with a conservative without being shouted down or name-called. i'm sure liberal blogs are just as bad for conservatives trying to have a conversation.
keep it up, i'll stick with ya. even if we don't agree on most things.

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