Use that filter before you speak

In my efforts not to curse, the above title is a euphemism for what I would prefer to say. My message is to those who have decided to bypass any filters and say the most inflammatory things.

Two public figures – Johnny Depp and Kathy Griffin – decided that they should make suggestions about the demise of the President. And, a Democrat official was appropriately fired for making a statement about how he was glad Representative Scalise was shot because of his role in passing unfavorable legislation.

There is no call for these comments or actions. I fully understand the President has incited, promoted and condoned violence against others. He has failed to call out violence against minority groups, but has a quick comment for when a Muslim may be the perpetrator. This is not right, either.

So, let me be frank. One set of actions does not condone the other. Further, being violent or speaking of violence makes one’s argument poor. It is hard to argue issues when these uncivil remarks and actions get in the way of dialogue.

We need to remember we are all Americans. That is the most important tribe. It is well within our rights to disagree with leaders and others, but please be civil. Treat others like you want to be treated. If you call someone an idiot, then you should not be surprised if they return the favor.

I am annoyed with Democrats and Republicans

This post may be offensive to some of my followers, but I appreciate your comments should you disagree. As an Independent voter who left the Republican Party in 2006, but did not choose to rejoin the Democratic Party, I want our leaders to solve our problems and work together. We have gotten progressively worse with partisanship and that is not good, as we are attempting to solve problems with party rhetoric and not data and or common sense. Both sides are to blame, but I find more fault with my more recent former party given their support by a more active misinformation base parading as a mainstream news network.

Like many people, I do not fit into a nice compartment. I am fiscally conservative and socially progressive. I have these beliefs we need to pay for things and every citizen has equal rights and opportunity. Per Teddy Roosevelt, they need a ‘square deal” and like his cousin Franklin, they need a “fair deal.” I guess I want our leaders to be better stewards than they have come to be with our money and rights. What many have failed to realize is my rights are just important as yours, and vice versa. The right to do something does not include the right to squelch another person’s rights. Think about this last sentence, as folks advocating religious freedom laws seem to miss the subtlety of this point.

Using a recent example, I cite the approval of our new Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch. This man was not perfect, but he seemed to have a pretty good set of experiences. Yes, he is more conservative than I would prefer, but he was nominated by a Conservative president. That is how this works. My question to Democrats is Gorsuch more horrible in their minds than the next few in consideration? Why force the Republicans hand in blowing up the 60 vote rule? I fault the GOP as well for blowing up this rule, as we now could get a more extreme person on the Court. And, that is not what this Court needs in m view. So, between the two actions, we have thrown future stewardship out the window.

Another recent example is the effort that fortunately failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Republicans decided to work without Democrats to do this and their party bickering caused it to fail. It also failed because it was a horribly crafted and rushed bill. Since most Americans want to keep Obamacare, but improve it, why did the GOP waste time and not work with Democrats to fix it? The President even blamed Democrats for this bill’s failure, yet they weren’t even at the table. That is a shame.

Stewardship is an important word to define what is lacking. We need our leaders to be better stewards of our country than they have become. Both parties do not lay claim to all of the good ideas and both can lay claim to some bad ones. So, why not set all the rhetoric aside, study real data and real causes, and come up with informed, bipartisan solutions through civil discourse. Right now, in my view, our Congress and President’s inability to do this are a threat to national security. Please be better stewards. We need you to be.

 

 

 

The enemy is incivility

We are about to inaugurate a President who is the most unpopular President-elect in over forty years per more than one survey. Yet, he is our future President and our fortunes as a country are tied to this man.

I hope he is successful where he can truly help America and the planet. And, when he is headed down a perilous path, it is our right to take issue with his actions or lack of decorum.

But, it is our duty to raise issues with civility and a focus on the issues or the actions. The enemy is not our fellow neighbors who may passionately disagree with our position. We should treat each other with civility and expect the same in return. I welcome feedback that focuses on the issues and not me personally. Name calling and labeling are the tools of a lazy arguer or a child. When I see or hear labels, I am less impressed with the argument.

Earlier this week, we celebrated a true American hero for all races, Martin Luther King. He advocated for civil disobedience, when some of his proponents argued for more forceful action. He was heavily influenced by Gandhi, who practiced the same kind of discourse in both South Africa and India to successfully improve the rights of dark-skinned people in those countries.

It is more than OK to disagree with our leaders and each other. But, we must treat each other with dignity and respect. And, quoting an old boss, we have two ears and one mouth – we should use them in that proportion. Listening will significantly improve civil discourse.

Of all the people…

I had an old boss who was not only a great storyteller, he had funny lines to give little digs that sounded nice at first. He would do this to avoid saying something overtly negative, but get his point across. A good example is as follows, “of all the people in the world, he certainly is one of them.”

Another example is “he was talking about you, so I started to defend you, but recognized he was making some good points.” This one is more teasing of a friend than it is getting in a dig, but it can be used for either.

In my previous post, I spoke of civilly offering your differing opinion in the manner in which you would like to receive such. That is a goal, but sometimes we are dealing with insufferable people who, in short, think only their opinions have merit and you are stupid not to believe as they do.

Try as we may to offer our counter opinion, it is not heard. much less heeded. Often the purveyor will double down calling out more names or labels. As I have said many times, I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, but offer valid points and not labels.

This weekend, a blogger who is a consistent name caller followed his modus operandi on another blog. He started with an insulting label and comment denigrating the blogger and ended with more slams, even adding that intelligent people agree with his point implying that if you do not, then you are obviously not intelligent.

He actually did a disservice to his main argument, which was reasonably stated, even though I mostly did not agree with it. Yet, by bookending it with snarky comments and labels, his reasonable discourse was overshadowed. Plus, by being consistent in his labeling and snarky comments, he has earned a reputation that does a disservice to what he has to say.

So, I responded to his point where he said intelligent people agreed with him, by saying I guess I am stupid and shared why I disagreed with his point citing others who felt the same. I do not like to be flippant like this as it is not representative of how I want to receive feedback, so I apologized later for my tone, but not my point. Yet, that does not condone his tone or denigrating of a blogger who does her homework.

I do my best to stay informed using reliable news sources. I try to support my opinions with corroborating data or citing leaders or experts who feel likewise. Yet, at the end of the day, my opinions remain such, no more, no less. I will do my best to not call someone’s opinion stupid, but my and other opinions deserve similar respect.

Or, as another boss once said, “I am not going to pee down someone’s leg, but he should not pee down mine.” I just need to practice what I preach by giving feedback like a want it and not smelling like urine.

 

 

A few suggestions for a better 2017

As many blogs have highlighted, 2016 has been the most interesting of years. My biggest concerns go beyond any electoral issues. They are the decrease in civil discourse and the increase in fake news and misinformation.

On the lack of civil discourse, we must start listening to each other and not just to respond. We need to listen to understand the other’s point of view. We need to decrease the decibel level and the use of name-calling and labeling.

The louder people are and the more shortcuts they use by labels show their argument is poor. I personally find labels to be a lazy form of argument to dismiss the other’s point of view. I have been called a tree hugger for this purpose, but I usually counter that I am also a capitalist to make that person think a little more.

On the fake news and biased news sites, we must do a better job of labeling the veracity of these entities. If you are going to call yourself a news source, then you need to be doing what it takes to be right far more than you are wrong. And, you need to have an errata where corrections are made public. We must also do our part to understand the veracity of our news sources.

So, what can we do better in 2017? Treat others like we wanted to be treated would be a huge plus. Listen and provide feedback like you want to receive it. Also, know the following statements:

– neither political party has all the good ideas and both have some that are not so good or don’t factor in the holistic causes of the problem.

– political incorrectness does not give anyone license to lie or be a jerk. One can be candid without taking someone’s head off.

As for the fake news sites, be on your guard. If it reads like a tabloid, then that is a sure sign. If mainstream news is not covering an issue, but this source is, check out its veracity. If it says Sponsored Advertisement on it, that is opinion, not news. If you are getting your news from shock jock entertainers, that is opinion. Also, be guarded of Facebook forwarding of news and even blogs on this source (by the way, my site is not news and represent the opinions of its user).

These fake news creators are very good as they make a nice profit through advertisements. They can afford to be good at it. So, it does take effort and homework on our part.  I read a variety of sources, Reuters, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, news summaries and watch or listen to several others – PBS Newshour, BBC World News America, NPR, some mainstream news, etc.

Our issues are hard enough without us debating over the facts. We must gain common ground, listening and asking questions. Otherwise, we will solve the wrong problem.

 

 

 

Tuesday’s Gone with the Wind

The above song lyric is from a great song by Lynryd Skynryd, a southern rock band hailing from my home town. It is a fitting song, since the initial band left us much too soon after a tragic plane crash that took its lead singer and others and altered its course.

With this song lyric in mind, I want to note a few other things that seemingly have “gone with the wind” or at least are eroding away:

– Civil discourse seems to be on the demise at a time when we need it most. If you disagree with someone, you need not take his or head off. Respond the way you would want to be responded to. And, listen to hear and not to respond.

– Handwritten letters are a lost art it seems. To me, it is a treat to get a note or card in the mail. When my first son went to college, I sent him a letter a week. When we moved him out, I stumbled onto the saved letters.

– Political correctness can be over done, but abandoning it for frank dialogue does not give the speaker the right to lie or be a jerk. One can be frank and still have a sense of decorum. See Civil discourse above.

– Privacy continues its decline, with Social Media, marketing segmentation and mining, hacking, and the absence of filters between people’s brains and fingers or mouth. Just because you think it or did it, does not mean we need to know about it.

– Our world remains a beautiful place. The biggest threat to it is us. All religious documents encourage us to be better stewards of our earth. There is no Planet B, so we better take care of this one.

If there is a theme above, it is we must treat each other and our planet better. We could start by treating ourselves with more respect. We are an imperfect lot, so we should cut each other a break. We can have civil discourse to discuss our problems. We stand a better chance of solving them that way.