We live in a great country and we should celebrate tomorrow. Our forefathers were profound table setters for a country trying to save it from itself through its design and initial Bill of Rights. Yet, we risk a great deal with our hyper-partisanship, which can be equated with two loud voices shouting in the wind. The dilemma is when people are shouting, there is not much listening going on. It is OK to disagree, but we need to listen to others’ point of view. An old boss used to say, “we have two ears and one mouth and need to use them in that proportion.”
I have written several posts over the last few months over the need to listen more, collaborate more, name call less and get information from reputable sources. On this latter point, far too many people are getting their information from sources they only agree with. The extreme worst cases of this is the bookends, Fox News and MSNBC, which at best, are giving a spin doctored view of the world. I have used this example before, but the joke goes when a relative from the north was visiting his parents in Alabama, he was asked to put down their dog who had been bitten by a rabid fox, as he was the better shot. The headlines in the northern paper where he lived said “Man puts down rabid dog.” The headline in the Birmingham paper was “Damn Yankee kills beloved pet.” Same story, different view.
As an Independent voter and former member of both mainstream parties, I can assure you neither party has all the good ideas. And, with the heavy monied influence from industry lobbyists, we have some ideas that do not pass the smell test as they are so heavily weighted toward an industry. Our only guard against this is to get involved and be more informed. We need to write our legislative leaders and tell them we support or don’t support things, but use reasoned arguments. If you name call or brand something, your argument has less merit. The sad part is I see legislators do this and they need to be held even more accountable as they should know better.
I watch and read multiple news sources, which do not include either Fox or MSNBC. My niece watches both as she feels she gets a balanced view. I told her she is actually seeing two extreme points of view (the shouters), that she is seeing less of the real story. Just like the two headlines, the real story is between the two and some stories are not covered at all, while others are covered ad nauseum. So, please look to news sources that will be more even-handed. The more strident you are, when you see or read real news, you will find it more disagreeable. That is OK. It may help you understand the other vantage point.
Two final comments. First, I mentioned name calling and branding lessens one’s argument. But, go beyond that. Be civil in your discourse. If you cannot articulate your arguments as if you were sitting across from the audience, then don’t post them. If I read an opinion noted in a blog and see vile comments in response, then I tend to simply ignore the commenters as their opinion is not worth reading. This goes whether I agree or disagree, for the most part, with the opinion.
Second, actions speak louder than words. Get more active in the community and follow your passions. If political activism is not your thing, do what floats your boat and help others. I volunteer to help with homeless families whose income could not cover rent and other expenses and they lost their house. My wife has a passion to help shut-ins with food delivery. If you want to mentor kids, any elementary school could use tutors, readers or teacher assistants.
Happy 4th of July. Let’s get involved and let’s be civil even when we disagree. And, in the words of two great fictional Americans, Bill and Ted, “be excellent to one another and, party on dudes.”