A plea for civility.

There’s a lot of anger in our country right now. I think we can all agree that the country is deeply divided…we saw it during the election, and we see it now in the discourse about the 45th president on both sides of the political spectrum. Too frequently, this divisiveness is being expressed as dismissiveness: rather than attempting intelligent, informed discussion about what’s going on in this country, many people are assuming moral superiority, and belittling people’s opinions with the use of terms such as “snowflake,” “libtard,” “deplorables,” and “idiots.”

Many people are posting on Facebook about how afraid they are for what’s happening in our country. This is because, for those people, it feels like our democracy is at a tipping point. There’s fear of war, fear of economic upheaval, fear of turning back the clock on social progress, and yes, fear of tyranny, amongst many other things too numerous to mention.

And here’s the thing…their concerns are valid. And by that I’m not saying that all those fears are going to come true! They might, they might not…that’s something that history will tell us. But these fears are people’s personal emotions, and no one has the right to determine whether someone’s emotions are better than someone else’s.

Now, depending on your personal viewpoint, some people’s positions on certain issues seem ridiculous. For example, I definitely don’t ascribe to the fear of all Muslims that too many people in our country have. But I understand where that fear is coming from: Islamic terrorists ARE frightening. I think we can all agree on that. But the idea that all Muslims are Islamic terrorsts and a threat to our society is fallacious, and only through intelligent discourse and education of facts(not “alternative” ones) can we move past that fear.

For the vast majority of us, we only see the surface of what’s happening with the Trump administration. The motivations, and ultimate intentions, of some of these appointments and executive actions we can only speculate on, as we aren’t in the inner circle where decisions are being made…we only have the information that’s reported on. This uncertainty also helps generate fear, as we don’t know where we will end up. It was a crazy election cycle, it’s now been a crazy first week or so in office for Trump. We are in uncharted territory here…will we have a war with China? A new civil war? An impeachment? An autocracy? The answer is, we don’t know. We can’t know…none of us is privy to the future. We can only speculate.

But until history gives us the answer, we can and should debate the likelihood of such events, and ways to prevent them, with civil, intelligent discourse. And be mindful that others have viewpoints and fears which are perfectly valid, even if they don’t align with yours. If you have to resort to calling people derisive names, you probably don’t have a very strong foot to stand on.


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