The Absence of Decency
Its been several months since I last posted. We have just come through one of the most nasty, bitter political seasons in recent memory. More than an election, it seems to be to have been a civil war. The division between us was so deep and acrimonious, that demonstrations erupted into physical violence. People who otherwise are civil toward one another, have become bitter and broken off friendships.
I’ve listened to the rhetoric on both sides, and to be honest, neither side is as good or as evil as they have been portrayed by supporters and dissenters. It has become an ideological struggle over what kind of America we want to have. Some desire a country defined and governed by the constitution, while others wish to rewrite the constitution, resulting in a very different America than we have had previously.
What concerns me is not which side won or lost, as much as the behavior of a great many of us. People have behaved badly. I have been called horrible things because I hold a view that others don’t accept. Whatever happened to the words of Voltaire, “I wholly disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” In our current social climate, the would have taken Voltaire out and stoned him, or at least unfriended him on Facebook. I am feeling that we as a society have undergone a loss of common decency. A loss of kindness.
Does an individual really need to agree with us to be our friend? There are plenty of people I disagree with, but love them. There are others who agree with me that I can’t stand to be around. Maturation requires a humble openness to discovery within the context of firmly held convictions. It means we listen to each other instead of waiting for the other to finish so we can “respond.”
The worst part of it, is the realization that people chose their opinions over my friendship. People who claim to be kind and compassionate, chose their political views over me. Its painful to realize the low value they place on friendship. This goes against my values. I can’t look down on someone because they believe something different from me. Its draconian, and quite honestly, the left has shown itself to be as narrow and negative as those they hate on the right.
The good thing is that not all people are like this. Some hold their friendships higher than politics. It makes you ask the question, how much to people really matter to you? – and don’t twist this so as to suggest your political view is for the common good as if it is some higher justification for your view. Everyone says that and it means nothing. Thats just bullshit. If you value people, then do it. Valuing people is no excuse for treating others badly. You can have your views, and you can feel deeply about them, just don’t be a jerk.