Archive for Thursday, October 1, 2009

Back to Golden Rule

October 1, 2009

Do you remember when you were young and about to slam the screen door as you roared outside to join friends? Many times, your parents might remind you to “play nice.” Well it seems that we need that admonition on a national level because we aren’t playing very nice right now.

You see this bad, uncivil attitude throughout many facets of life, ranging from bad driving, to sports attitudes and political debates. We certainly need to slow down and have a major attitude check.

For example, there are drivers who are completely inconsiderate of the rights or safety of others. They weave in and out of traffic, cutting off other vehicles and endangering lives. I’m sure if you asked one of the “grand prix” wannabes, they would quickly tell you they are in a hurry. Well, duh, everyone is in a hurry, but that is no excuse to endanger the lives of others.

This same bad behavior has long been a sad part of athletics. We have seen tennis players throw temper tantrums and receive stiff fines. In other sports, we see taunting of opponents and displays of extremely bad sportsmanship. Now, no one loves sports more than I do, yet to quote former radio talk show host Don Fortune, who ended his program daily with the comment “remember folks, it is just a game.”

Certainly, the same is true of political discussion. Well, actually there isn’t much political discussion these days. Far too often an attempt to discuss a national or state policy quickly degenerates into a shouting match. How can you learn to appreciate an opposing point of view if you don’t listen to it? Or, how can you learn about an issue if everyone is shouting and yelling?

There are too many who would demonize those who have opposing opinions and write them off as “evil.” It is a sad state of affairs when people cannot talk about issues without raising blood pressure to dangerous levels.

This isn’t the first time in our national history we have gone through a period of uncivil behavior. The last time we had this level of national anger and uncivil behavior was in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Anyone who supported the Vietnam War and the troops was labeled a right wing Nazi. Those who opposed the war were written off as liberal kooks who weren’t part of the real world. Sadly, there was no opportunity to discuss the issue quietly. Groups were in the street protesting, and others were on the sidewalk shouting obscenities.

Now, that period of angry protest is long gone and in some cases forgotten. However, its legacy is uncivil behavior. Sometimes I wonder if we have forgotten that as Americans, we have the right to our opinions, and we have the right to express those opinions and to vote accordingly.

I have heard complaints about the lack of respect by young people. Well, just maybe they are following the bad example they see in their elders.

If there is one thing I have learned, it is issues aren’t always clear. I have seen many community issues over the years, and, yes, some were quite heated. No matter what the outcomes have been, nothing is ever as bad as its opponents argue. Nor, on the other hand, is any outcome as good as those who favor it say. The answer is always somewhere in the middle.

I sincerely hope we soon enter a period of more appropriate behavior. We need to allow others to have differing opinions while working toward the goals we want. Remember, just because people are on opposite sides of an issue, they do not have to be enemies.

In the final analysis, what we need to do is remember the Golden Rule and treat others as we would like them to treat us. If we all do that simple act, the world will be a far better place.

Comments

Jason Bailey 5 years, 2 months ago

Clausie: Your editorial is based on a false premise. Namely, that all issues have equal consequence on our future as a nation or to us individually and that all sides have an equal voice to decide the outcome. Both are incorrect.

One of the reasons you see the level of discontent is due to the fact that the issues being debated in DC are of grave significance to us as a nation. This is a Medicare/SS-level deal where a new entitlement will be created that will never, ever, ever go away. If they get this wrong, we will go down the drain in every way imaginable.

From my point of view, the other side is not listening to those that disagree. Their goal is the aggregation of power through dependence on govt. Proof? Why is it that Obama wants the health reform bill passed right away because it is "that important to America" yet says it won't be implemented until 2013? Answer: Because he knows Americans will hate it and wants to secure his re-election prior to the implementation.

When you're talking about career politicians, everything revolves around them -- not us. That's another reason why you hear so much shouting. Our representatives are not truly representing their constituents. Another case in point, Rep. Moore of District 3. He is a classic liberal in DC but a "fiscal conservative" when he comes back home to talk to the folks. Worse thing is, most of them buy it without looking at his voting record. This sort of two-faced behavior is epidemic in Washington across many districts.

I would rather have a civil and thoughtful debate but there are times when the stakes are so high for me and my kids that I will fight. Jefferson said it himself, "From time to time, Liberty must be sprinkled with the the blood of tyrants and patriots." I choose to see this metaphorically but I honestly believe, through study of Jefferson, that he meant it literally. In my mind, "the blood of tyrants" is politically defeating those that will take my country down the tubes for perpetuity. The "blood of patriots" is my sacrifice to do whatever it will take to make that happen.

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