Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Show Some Courtesy for Pete's Sake!

There have been a few times lately when Facebook friends have made snarky comments or jokes about politicians I happen to admire. I've called them on it, as respectfully as possible, for a couple of reasons.

First of all, it's hurtful. It really bothers me to know that people I care about would publicly post things that are so thoughtless with no consideration for opposing points of view. (Like mine; ahem.)

Secondly, it’s just plain rude. It used to be that the rules of polite society included "don't discuss religion or politics". That was a rule for a reason! You don't want to upset someone you care about or are in contact with socially, or have them think you're some kind of jerk if you get fired up. (And I can get fired up about politics, so I am talking about myself here.) Up until my last post I've tried to keep politics out of my blog, but it is something I'm passionate about so it's going to creep in from time to time. With the exception of the previous post, I am careful to keep my political views to myself when I am in mixed company. By mixed I mean politically mixed, and I prefer to err on the side of caution. If I don't know where you stand politically, then I'm not going to bring the subject up. I do have friends who share my beliefs; I will discuss politics with them until the cows come home. I am also quite comfortable debating with anyone of any political stripe if I know that we both can disagree respectfully, but it's difficult to figure that out about a person unless you know them really, really well.

That's the whole key- respect. I may not agree with you, but I still respect you. I will not sneer at you or demean you or make tasteless jokes about the politicians you admire. I may try to point out what I dislike about said politicians, but I won't pray for their death or say that they are un-American and should leave the country. I won't say YOU should leave the country if I disagree with you and I expect the same treatment in return.

But we certainly aren't shown any examples of respect for opposing viewpoints in our media these days, unless you count the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Why are we as a society so accepting of this behavior in our newscasters? Why does it take a couple of comics to bring this disgraceful behavior to the national spotlight? There are examples of rudeness and disrespect on just about every cable news program. It's become "cool" to sneer at and belittle the other side, to call them un-American and un-patriotic, and I'm tired of it. Now that behavior is trickling into society so that people don't see any problem with posting demeaning jokes on a public forum. (And by public forum I mean any forum where a lot of people with many differing views participate, such as Facebook.)

But it is a problem. This kind of behavior dehumanizes all of us. It makes it easy to have an “us versus them” mentality, when it really isn’t “us verses them” at all. We’re all in this together, and if we keep electing these radicals (on both sides) to our government who refuse to work together, egged on by an increasingly radicalized media who are egged on by their ratings, then we’re all in trouble. If we follow the example of this increasing radicalization and find it acceptable to sneer at the other side and start fighting amongst ourselves then where can that lead? Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, quoted the Bible when he said “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. (Mark 3:25) Words of wisdom indeed. In that dark time in our nation’s history we were literally divided in the worst possible way. I don’t think we’re in danger of another civil war but I do think the dangers we face if our government doesn’t work are very real. Threats like a crumbling infrastructure, corporate excesses, terrorism, and the economic dominance of countries like China.

We have to work together. We have to stand up and say “NO MORE” to empty, angry, radical rhetoric. Debate the issues intelligently so we can come up with solutions and get things done. Stop snarking at each other because it is not productive. Stop thinking it is OK to post nasty jokes about the other side in a public forum. It’s not OK. It’s not funny. It’s rude and it rips us all apart.

I was told I have a chip on my shoulder the first time I called someone on a rude Facebook comment. I said yep, I sure do. I’ll own it and I wish more people would do the same. Be nice to each other, and if you aren’t, I’m going to call you on it.


MrsPhilipswithoneL said...

That is a really good post. You need to publish it somewhere else besides on here, you should send it to a newspaper, magazine or even a news station. It is true that not everyone agrees, but they should be tactful about it and not try to lead everyone to violence and hatred. I would like to post a link to this on my blog, let me know if it's ok.

Kim said...

Yes, you can post a link anytime! Thanks for the kind words about the post. :)