Saturday, November 03, 2012

Our Graceless Election

I love my country.  Truth is, most Americans do.  To say that one party is more "American" than another is sort of un-American itself, for that means that we think there should be no diversity of ideas which is the very core of what we are all about.

This long, oh-so-drawn out campaign season has truly brought out the worst in all of us, and that saddens me deeply.  It also has nothing at all to do with party or candidate preference.  Somewhere along the line, we collectively decided that we would lower ourselves to name calling rather than participate in a true debate about ideas.  We have allowed our media on both "sides" to foment hatred, to present opinion as fact, and to encourage us to do battle with one another...and we have been duped because we have failed to see how much of it has more to do with generating ratings (thus generating cold, hard cash), than it does with encouraging true thoughtful discourse about the direction our country should go.

I have spent months and months in stunned disbelief as I read Facebook posts that are positively venomous from both sides of the aisle.  What really floors me is the tone, and how people type things that are so rude and intentionally divisive.  They word things in ways that polite, well raised folks would never dream of saying out of respect for those who might have differing views.  It has moved way beyond the concept of "free speech" and into the realm of  "hate speech", and it does absolutely nothing to move our country forward.  Indeed, what it does is makes us take several steps backwards as we label all who disagree with us as "enemy".  For some reason, Facebook and forums lower our inhibitions and we have turned into a people who all feel that everyone is not only entitled to, but also is breathlessly waiting to read our vitriolic statements.  I'd wager that if you asked most of your Facebook friends to repeat the things they post verbally in person in a group of mixed friends who range from Dems to Repubs, they might still voice the same opinions, but they would almost always rephrase it so that it would be more respectful than anything they carelessly post for all the world to see.  Or at least, I'd sure hope so.

The internet is a wonderful thing, but in some ways I think it has definitely caused us to regress.

Yesterday our entire family...our Republican Daddy, our Democrat kids, our Libertarian youngest, and our Independent Mommy...all attended a lunch time rally where a small group of folks from our church and a neighboring church gathered downtown to wave signs urging people to simply be part of the process and vote.  We carried signs that said "Don't Hate...Vote!!" and "Participate in the Process!". We did this to counter the increasingly negative tone of this election locally, and to remind folks how blessed we are to live in a country where we can elect our leaders without bloodshed.

As we approached the intersection, there standing on the corner was a lone man who held a large, hateful and intentionally incendiary banner.  What was it?  A large flag of the former Soviet Union with an Obama emblem on one side.  While I would absolutely defend this gentleman's right to display this, I couldn't help but ask myself what he hoped to accomplish, and why he felt a need to tell our entire town what he believed.  I will clearly state that this would have been just as offensive to me if it had been about Mitt Romney, for I guess I see no reason at all to demonize any candidate simply because I may disagree with their stand on issues.  My mom and dad taught me one important thing when I was young, and that was that someone was not evil just because they happened to disagree with me...and that sometimes they just might turn out to be right because I was not going to be 100% right in every opinion I had, I would just be right for me.

What we all should be concerned about, though, is that this sort of rhetoric is spreading, and it is harming us in ways I don't think we even recognize.  When we begin to throw around labels like "Communist", "Fascist", "Socialist", "War Monger", "Fundamentalist", "Armageddon", "Holocaust",  and so many others, we do a complete disservice to our country. Words mean things, and when we continue to use such incredibly hyperbolic language to describe things, those words begin to lose their true meaning.  We trivialize very important issues by using language that is ill suited or flat out incorrect, simply because we want to generate "buzz" or incite an emotional response.  What cracks me up is that you could ask the Average Joe hanging on a street corner what "Communism" really is and how it applies to our president, or by the same token ask the guy who is probably standing with his own sign on the opposite corner to explain how it is possible to call Romney a "War Monger", and I'll bet both men would find it difficult to draw a direct correlation between their ridiculously over-the-top accusations and what the real meaning of those words is.  That is because we have trivialized their meaning by such dumbed down attempts at public discourse and debate.  Resorting to unsubstantiated name calling on both sides is now what we settle for, as if that is real dialogue.

You ask anyone who has lived in a communist country if America is heading toward a communist society, and you'll have to pick them up off the ground, because they'll be laughing so hard.  You ask anyone who has fought for our country if Romney's desire for a strong military means he is a War Monger, and I suspect you'd get an equal response.

We may not agree with the platforms put forth by every candidate, we may find much of it distasteful and even harmful for our country.  I, for one, don't see a need to further increase our military spending unless it is for veteran care.  Does that mean I think Mitt is a War Monger? Of course not!  I simply think he has different ideas about what it takes to keep our country safe.  I disagree with him, but I don't for a moment think he is Evil Incarnate.

Someone is not evil just because I disagree with them, nor are they my enemy.  I also don't think that means we can not be in relationship with folks we disagree with...or I guess I would have been divorced a long time ago :-)

We have grown into such a graceless culture, one filled with shock jocks. Anger is broadcast to us around the clock by folks making money off of dividing us.  And we have fallen for it, we have unwisely failed to see it.

After receiving no less than 18 robocalls in a 24 hour period this week, which represents literally billions of dollars spent in an attempt to get me to hate my fellow American and view them as my enemy, I am going to make every effort in the coming years to speak only in terms that are respectful of all, and are intentionally inclusive regardless of "Side".  My countrymen are not my enemy, and those who disagree with my perspective serve me as policemen, firemen, nurses, politicians, soldiers, and so much more.  My life is better because of ALL Americans and that includes their differing opinions.


Anonymous said...

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

I would like to invite everyone, regardless of who you are voting for, to join in prayer for our country:

* protection of all candidates, election workers, and voters

* a fair and honest election

* a clear result that does not require recounts and legal action

* no violence or intimidation

please pray also for the folks suffering in the cold without power, and some without homes, in the northeast

Here are some verses you can pray:

11 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Daniel 2:20 Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them.

Psalm 16:7 I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Proverbs 2:3-8 if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4: 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Habakkuk 1:5 Look at the nations and watch-- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.

Habakkuk 2:20 the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.

Habakkuk 3:2 Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.

Philippians 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Peggy in Virginia

Jenny said...

Love it!