There are few things more precious to us that we give to others than our opinions—especially on the subjects that matter to us the most. Finding a receptive audience may prove to be illusive, but we hope that our words will fall upon welcoming ears and minds. For the foreseeable future part of job each day will be to craft my opinions and share them with you, and of course I am hoping for welcoming ears and minds…but I accept that there will be those things I say that you will disagree with. That is great, it is where meaningful dialogue and constructive efforts towards solutions of complex societal problems come from. As long as we speak openly and honestly and respectfully only good can come from the process—and it is truly a process.
Our country is facing a series of dynamics unlike anything ever seen before. Because of this I believe that the need for dialogue is greater than ever, but the reality is falling far too short of that. The centrifugal force at play has polarized many more people than we might ever have thought possible. Extremes and near extremes are now occupied by many people from all walks of life who had never before believed that they could be capable of this kind of strong emotion over the state of the country. I have found myself, a centrist and relatively unbiased person, pulled into the gravitational force created by first the 2016 campaign and then the results themselves.
In a single day in November we veered in a direction many thought an impossibility for the danger it represented.
It has been made all the more terrifying because of the devolving of our society prior to it, the polarizing did not stop, it did not right itself—it has gotten worse. Rudeness is now acceptable. Crudity often encouraged and laughed at. Bullying and intimidation flourish in public and explode on the Internet. Am I just a “PC snowflake” who needs a “safe place”? No, I am an American who has become fed up with lazy Americans who can only express themselves in crass comments and four-letter expletives that every 9 year-old knows too. It starts with a president proud of his disgusting exploits, despite representing the party of “family values” and makes its way onto the floors of Congress, the sets of newsrooms, and into our local government meetings.
D E C O R U M
When I was growing up I was taught manners. We did not need politically corrected speech because we had parentally corrected speech. We watched, they taught, we learned—and we emulated them. I would never have dreamed of hearing curse words on TV, certainly not from broadcast journalists, and if they had been used in Congress on the floor it would have BEEN news. There were expectations of how we all were supposed to behave in public and less was thought of those who did not. It was considered to be evolution. We were supposed to evolving as a species so intelligence, intellect, knowledge, and self-control were so supposed to be on the rise…not the decline.
We are, I think, devolving right now, not evolving, and with no reason to do so.
We must rise above the mire.
We must pull ourselves and our society up and out of the sinkhole.
We must begin to deaccelerate the tendency to hate, from all sides.
We must arm ourselves with knowledge, not propaganda, in order to fight the real battles and not the smoke and mirrors show we see every day.
Hate and lies got us into the situation; only the opposite will get us out.