Respect for ourselves guides our morals,
respect for others guides our manners.
As mentioned in my last post, I underwent a renewal last year lying in the emergency room waiting to be wheeled into the operating room. That sense of love, gratitude and optimism has grown deep roots and restored an equilibrium that I thought had been permanently overgrown with bitterness and anger. I carried this unholy burden around for about five soul-sucking years. I feel compelled to say all of this because I am torn between wanting to wiggle my toes in the tall cool grass of my restored spirit and wanting to rip badass into some weedy issues that keep invading my consciousness.
A certain weariness and sadness has supplanted full-throttled outrage toward all the vitriol that passes for witty commentary: Republicans vs. Democrats, black vs. white, Christian vs. Muslim, religious vs. atheist, men vs, women, poor vs. wealthy, gay vs. straight, vegan vs. caveman, environmentalist vs. frackers, Trump vs. everyone. As a child coming of age in the sixties, I thought the intent was to be more tolerant of one another—to listen and attempt to understand—but instead we have become completely intolerant; now we denigrate and judge. Each side thinks their way is the only way. We seek our own definition of perfection and idealism, and if the other side doesn’t share it, we vilify and condemn. We have become so thin-skinned as a nation (world?) that the “other” whatever that “other” might be, becomes the enemy, not merely different. We each think, “If you are not like me, nor share my beliefs, my way of moving and acting in the world, then there is something fundamentally wrong with you.” We riot, ridicule, and even behead because of our intolerance and inability to play well with others. We sit in a church for an hour, get to know the hearts of the gentle people with whom we commune, and are so entrenched in our ideologies that we murder them all. We no longer recognize progress in society nor admit fallibility in our revered heroes. We are so consumed with our brand of idealism that reason, empathy and compassion are annihilated.
I am old enough to have seen great change wrought in this country and throughout the world. But there is something sinister afoot and, in many ways, I think we are going backwards as a society due to the incivility (and worse) that is encroaching our collective reason. Let’s start a real dialogue. I encourage opposing views. I will listen to any viewpoint that is expressed thoughtfully and respectfully, regardless of which way the political pendulum swings. I have learned the most from what I initially understood the least. So let’s attempt to understand one another. You don’t have to think as I do, nor vote for whom I vote for, nor worship as I do (or don’t), nor eat the way I eat, nor love whom and how I love. You have likely made many different choices than I have in my life. We each have intrinsic value, and we each have arrived at our current destination based on myriad experiences that have shaped us, our core beliefs, and our world view because of those unique experiences. Even if we don’t agree with one another’s choices or viewpoints—or fully understand them—we can learn from one another, and more importantly, we can like one another in spite of our differences if we keep things civil. In 1967, I hoped for world peace and love. Now I would settle for a little respect. Let’s start there.