OPINION – I don’t know that I like where we are as a country these days, the reason being that the things that separate us are, at times, ridiculous yet the separation becomes deeper.
Last week I did a column on how I thought a couple of guys who had participated in an act of civil disobedience should receive a minimum sentence and be forced to pay for any damages that occurred when they rode their ATVs through Restoration Canyon.
The results of that column?
Bizarre. Disappointing. Sad.
Particularly from the side of the political fence where I reside.
There were some who agreed that the guarantees of the First Amendment should cover all, regardless of political persuasion.
There were others, however, who looked at this situation as an opportunity for a little payback, talking, basically, about how these grinning, idiotic, rednecks should have the book thrown at them.
Sorry, folks, but grinning, idiotic, rednecks are entitled to the same rights as grinning, idiotic, hippies. It’s how we’re supposed to roll in the United States.
Do I agree with the position these guys were trying to put forth?
No, not even close.
The reasons why are unimportant in this context. What is important, though, is a deeply rooted belief that we all have a voice and that we all have a right to use it, whether we are in the majority or the minority, without fear or favor.
Unfortunately, things have degenerated to such a state of discord that barely a civil word passes between the two sides.
And, that’s what is so distressing.
Who is to blame for all of this?
We are all guilty in varying degrees, some a little guiltier than others, of course. On both sides.
But, how many are willing to admit that?
The displeasure manifests itself to a certain extent in the leanings of many toward alternatives. The liberals are sort of rallying behind Bernie Sanders, the uber-liberal, independent senator from Vermont who announced his intention to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination. The heavy conservatives are turning their attention to the Tea Party, which means that dividing line between conservative and liberal is widening. Even moderate Democrats and Republicans are part of this ugly polarization.
We can complain and try to shift the blame on the layabouts who run Congress, but remember who put them there.
While their behavior is atrocious – we are 18 months away from the next Presidential election and they are already at each other’s throats – we perpetuate this travesty by following suit and automatically kicking in with name-calling and unforgiving behavior.
As I have mentioned in the past, there have been conservatives throughout history that I have held in high regard as statesmen and leaders. It doesn’t mean I had to compromise my beliefs, it just means I saw them as people of integrity and conviction who could address an issue with their own ideological zeal while still holding their positional adversaries in regard.
Same with the liberal wing, of course.
But these days?
Man, it just doesn’t happen very often and when it does, it is reviled as a sign of weakness.
It’s all too easy to toss a net over the whole bunch and say, “Throw ‘em all out.”
First of all, I don’t know if it would solve the deep-seated problems we now suffer and, most importantly, it simply won’t happen. We are so stuck on our own little political planets that we will continue to make the same mistakes. Meanwhile, too many men and women of integrity and hearts desiring to serve do not wish to be sullied by the stain of modern-day politics. So, they work in other directions to right the wrongs and try to level a playing field that is akimbo. I know I wouldn’t want to be a part of this mess.
I believe in fairness, which means that I believe that we should all have our moment on the soapbox, that we should get an honest hearing, that we should not be shouted down or derided simply because of our political persuasion.
The only solution I can come up with at this time is to stow those feelings and reactions that divide us so and learn how to talk to each other rather than at each other and to listen to what the other side has to say.
Most importantly, we need to drop the inherent dislike that has defined our politics for so long.
Our wounds are self-inflicted.
Yes, we have had some lousy role models all the way around.
Yes, we continue to live in rather tough times and we are all concerned for our own welfare.
And, yes, we are so very afraid of where we are headed.
But, we’re never going to go anywhere that doesn’t dead end until we learn to navigate that road together and realize that sometimes we need to turn left and other times we need to turn right.
I’m not happy, and you shouldn’t be either.
But, perhaps if we started engaging in intelligent, thoughtful discussion rather than slamming each other, we could accomplish some of this.
I catch a lot of flak at times for my opinions, which is fine. I can take it, because I know that what I am trying to offer is a different perspective, perhaps one you’ve never considered.
I know darned well that I am not going to sway an election or cause a massive defection from the right to the left, but I do hope I offer something to ponder. Whether you agree or not is up to you, and I respect that and honor that.
This isn’t one of those “Can’t we all get along” type of pleas. I know that is impossible and impractical, to be honest.
But it is a plea for civility, stepping back, taking a breath, and considering what somebody else has to say.
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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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