Friday, January 27, 2017

Whatever Happened to Civility?

One’s political persuasion does not matter to me. However, accepting that each individual American has the right to his / her own opinion and the right of expression without vitriol does.

Have we all forgotten the premise that citizens can agree to disagree, accept that it is unlikely we will persuade others to believe as we do, accept our friends, family members and neighbors are not aliens from outer space and treat people with kindness and respect?

Whether one be a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent, Socialist or Progressive don't we all owe our fellow human beings common courtesy?

The Bill of Rights gives citizens the right to free speech, freedom of assembly, the right to protest, the right to petition, the right to bear arms and the right to exercise freedom of religion. Peaceful protest and demonstrations such as the Womens’ kitty hat marches and the Right to Life march are protected by the US Constitution whether we disagree with those who demonstrate. 

What I find so unfathomably frustrating in 2017 is that rather than trying to understand and appreciate that we all have the right to hold different antithetical opinions, rather than respect for the differing opinions the discourse is obnoxious. 

Purported Christians, far right zealots and religious folks denigrate and treat moderates, libertarians, liberals, progressives and defenders of abortion rights, equal treatment under the law of all humans and those with differing opinions as heathens, sinners, evil, tree hugging, elitists  who have no clue how real Americans live. 

Progressives and liberals seem to chastise or portray conservatives, moderates and libertarian minded Americans as deplorable, uneducated, misogynist, racist, homophobic,  xenophobic, narrow-minded bible thumpers yearning for a world that no longer exists and  is stuck firmly  in the 19th Century.  

The average American is a centrist without an ideology that fits squarely into the narrow categories or boxes drawn by the media. 

What is abundantly clear, however, is that modern Americans seem to have rejected the premise that in civilized society one should act with civility or afford consideration and respect for our fellow human beings even when we strongly disagree with them. 

The institute for Civility defines the term thus:
“Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.”

Consider this by Thomas Jefferson, who reconciled with his dearest friend and political opponent John Adams after years of estrangement:

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”  {4/22/1800 in a letter to William Hamilton}

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