It is past time for this nation to back away from the precipice of violence in word and deed, and restore meaningful dialogue to the challenges we face together as one nation. We may be of divided opinion about how things should get done, but we are still one nation, and that needs to take precedence over all else. Think about it — if we lose our nation, what difference does ANY of the rest of it make?
I am guilty of subscribing to strong rhetoric from various parts of the issues spectrum. I believe passion is an important component in the exchange of ideas, and in no way want to return to a state of affairs where every belief is stifled by stuffed-shirt intellectualism that undercuts or even ridicules the power of conviction.
But the headlines each week have morphed into a gruesome, blood-spattered theatre marquee screaming that decorum and respect for human life have become casualties. This shooting war of words has now become an actual shooting war.
It is past time to ratchet the intensity back down, on ALL sides. There are more people today than ever before who were not raised with the idea that other people’s beliefs and interests may be equivalent or superior to their own. This act of aborting mutual respect in the cradle of personal development has created a generation that is highly susceptible to the dangerous belief that whoever disagrees with what they choose to believe is somehow less worthy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In other words, detractors become targets. The Nazis and the hard-line Communists thought this way, and justified their atrocities accordingly.
Pointing at the weapons used to carry out this hideous philosophy as the problem is willfull denial of the underlying truth. To me, it seems all too clear that many of those who derive power, influence or lucre from stridently inciting the listening public by dehumanizing those who oppose their views, secretly approve in their heart of hearts the actions of unstable extremists who carry out the kinds of attacks we have seen this week. Their unwillingness to assume some responsibility for these outcomes is hypocritical.
Ask any Representative or Senator if they get threats weekly, and you will be dismayed by the response. It would appear we are a nation on the brink of no longer being a nation. To be fair, many of those in government receiving these threats are the very ones engaged in fomenting this kind of feverish discontent, by the way they place partisan politics above the public interests, and the rhetoric they engage in to dehumanize their political opponents. So, the buck can start there, and work its way down.
We will always have issues to resolve. What has made this country great since its inception is our determination to RESOLVE these issues amicably through meaningful, substantive dialogue and compromise. We have already fought one bloody civil war, where sides were clearly defined and the issues foremost. Our union was preserved, and we have shown in the years since that we can sustain this precious experiment in self-governance. We can, if we will place a higher value on unity and mutual benefit than on winning every debate. If you win the debate and you are still wrong, what have you accomplished?
Let’s agree to shut off the hollering talk shows, to ignore the inciters and argument baiters, to change the radio dial from hot rhetoric to something softer and more healing for a while. My personal recommendation is to cue up ‘Consequence Free’ by Great Big Sea, play it loud and soak in the message.
We all need to back away from the cliff, and we have the power to do it. Do we have the will? God bless this flawed-but-very-wonderful experiment in freedom.
Image: CC0 Public Domain; https://pixabay.com/en/cliff-dam-denim-desaturated-feet-1839794/