Sunday, November 04, 2012

"Why Can't We All Just Get Along?", a Modern Cry of Angst, or Get Over Your Bad Self Already!

While I will be very glad to have the elections over this week, I am concerned for the long-term health of our country. We are terribly divided right now, but the worst part is all the venom that constantly spews from all directions. Unfortunately I do notice a stronger tendency from one side to try to hush the other. Believe it or not, last I checked, we ALL still have the right, in this country, to believe what we want.

Unless, of course, you don't agree with me--then you're a hater! Now I don't believe that, but it seems a significant portion of our population does, and that side with the strong tendency to want to hush the other that I mentioned earlier hushes people most effectively by labeling. Their especial favorite is "hater." In an effort to fight back, everyone else has now also begun using this handy little pejorative, which in the end would make us all haters.

Most of you have probably figured out that I'm conservative on most issues. But guess what--that doesn't mean I hate anybody. It doesn't mean I wish bad things on you, or that I hope you'll die some slow and painful death if I don't agree with your political or religious positions. It simply means that I don't agree with you. End of story.

So if I post something to my FB wall or blog about something that you don't like, or that offends you in some way, it is only a reflection of what I believe. It isn't a death wish on YOU, or hatred directed at YOU, or meant to persecute YOU. Really, it has very little to do with YOU at all. If I wanted to be a stinkbutt to YOU, I would just post it on YOUR wall and get it over with. I mean, if I want to be nasty, I'm going to make sure it's obvious--I'm going to do the job right or my mother might make me do it again! (That's a family joke from the days when I spent too many hot July afternoons re-tamping fence posts that still wiggled.)

So get over yourself already. If you can speak your beliefs, then why can't I? I don't post, or re-post is more like it, half the stuff I agree with because I know it would offend someone else. I try to be polite that way. I try to be "tolerant."

The thing that frustrates me, though, is that so many people see even one disagreement as evidence of hate. No matter which news outlet I read (and I do read more than just conservative ones), if I take the time to dip into the comments, it doesn't take long to find people calling each other names that would embarrass a convict and using language that would make a sailor blush. The topic doesn't matter--it can be a disagreement about politics or religion, or it what's the best way to cook the *&$%^# turkey you stupid %#&^$!!. Golly folks, that seems a little more like hatred than my rather tame tax rant from a couple days ago. My only four-letter words were probably pronouns like "your" or prepositions like "into" or "from" (as in, "why should the government take your money from your pocket and put it into theirs every chance they get?" Oops, there was another four-letter word: take. Certainly that one should be offensive!).

But can we recover from all this incivility? That's part of what concerns me so much. Remember this--no matter who wins next week, conservative or liberal, we ALL still have to live with each other. (Unless there is some sort of mass exodus, which I don't think is likely.) That last sentence is so important, let me repeat it: No matter who wins next week, WE ALL STILL HAVE TO LIVE WITH EACH OTHER. Will we still disagree? Most likely, but that doesn't mean we have to be so horrible to each other. My children and yours are growing up in this world.

If you want the world to not be such a hate-filled place, why don't some of you quit perpetuating it by finding hate every time someone doesn't agree with you. We have some mighty fine rights granted us in the Bill of Rights, but the right to not be offended just isn't in there. Instead we have this nifty thing called Freedom of Speech. And since we don't all believe the same thing, sooner or later your freedom and mine are going to meet like the Titanic and the iceberg. But stop equating that occurrence with "hate" already. Hate would be if one of us pulled out a gun and shot the other one over it.

Even if you encounter true hatred, how you handle it determines if that hatred continues or not. If you continue to exercise your Imaginary Right to Not Be Offended, by exercising your right to exist in a Constant State of Huff, then you are breathing life into the problem. You make the choice to allow that hate, to wallow in that mud. The old expression about drinking poison to spite one's enemy comes to mind here. A number of my loved ones don't see the world through the same lens I do, so I live in a world of self-imposed censorship in order to live in some semblance of peace. That's my choice, too. I've pulled up my big girl socks and accepted that fact. Listen up world--now it's your turn to do the same, because no matter who wins next week WE ALL STILL HAVE TO LIVE WITH EACH OTHER. The alternative is too ugly to desire.

(P.S. For anyone who ever reads my blog, you'll notice that I have refrained from bringing my faith into this discussion. I could share many of God's directives toward peace, unity, love, etc., but I didn't because I want to reach out to some who do not recognize the authority of God, let alone God's Word. I will say that Jesus summed all God's directive into two commands, one of which was to "love each other as we love ourselves," which is many times stated in secular terms as "treat each other how you would want to be treated." Got it? Good.)