Over the past year, I have grown weary of hearing politicians, on both sides of the aisle, spew forth mean and vile language that has no place in the public discourse. Their angry rhetoric reminds me of two kids fighting in a mud puddle. Everyone gets dirty.
Is anyone else tired of all this potty talk?
Now, leaders of one party are taking their hostility to a new “low.” Comments like “You cannot be civil with” the other party because it “wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about.” Or “when they go low, we kick them.” Fortunately, the former First Lady is well known for advocating a higher path saying, “when someone is cruel or acts like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level. No, our motto is, when they go low, we go high.” Good for her. Too bad neither party listens to such wisdom.
It seems like no one can have an honest, straightforward debate anymore where you can respect the other person’s right to speak even if you disagree with him or her. The volume escalates, name calling dominates, and finger pointing proliferates.
Tolerance used to mean respecting another person’s right to hold different views. Given the current political climate, I think it now means you agree with me or else I get to harass you and call you names and make your life a living hell. So much for tolerance.
Recently, I engaged some family members in a Facebook conversation on gun control. I was struck by everyone’s honest, sincere effort to dialogue respectfully on this hot-button subject, especially in light of recent mass shootings. The ensuing discussion encompassed people on both sides of this highly debatable, emotionally charged topic. To their credit, the conversation focused on substantive aspects with both sides expressing their concerns and asking valid questions. Refreshingly, name-calling and finger-pointing were absent from the dialogue.
Oh that our national dialogue could be as civil.
As a Christian, I am keenly aware that my salvation doesn’t fly on Air Force One. While my viewpoints certainly lean toward one end of the political spectrum, I respect the fact that other thoughtful believers, all trying to live out their faith, may view things through a different political lens. I value the input and honest dialogue with those who disagree with me. Good debate provides the opportunity for a fair hearing of all sides and, at least, the potential for compromise and progress toward a viable solution.
It occurs to me that I have NEVER changed my viewpoint as a result of someone yelling at me and calling me names. On the contrary, such intimidation and bully tactics tend to harden my stance. I do appreciate respectful conversation of all perspectives on an issue as it gives me considerable food for thought. I have actually modified my viewpoints on some issues because I heard reasoned arguments that made sense.
Want me to change my position on an issue? Then stop yelling at me and convince me with facts. I have often thought that the correct position on an issue should not need a megaphone of coarse language to communicate it.
On a more lighthearted note, this observation about the proliferation of inappropriate words on the national stage reminded me of a recent event involving one of my grandsons. Waiting to pick up her five-year-old son at Pre-K, my daughter noticed his teacher walking him towards the car. Wondering what her little boy had done now, she was relieved to hear that the teacher just wanted to share what had happened that morning. It seems that other boys in class had used some inappropriate words and the Pre-K teachers decided to nip it in the bud and lectured the entire class of five-year-olds that there would not be any more “Potty Talk” in class. Two hours later, my grandson reluctantly approached his teacher and said, “Teacher, I know we aren’t supposed to speak any more potty talk, but I REALLY need to go to the potty.”
Oh, the innocence of youth.
Oh, that they could remain innocent just a little while longer.
And oh that we as a society could learn to debate the issues in a civil manner.
I think we would all be the better for it.