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.

Letters from Tolstoy to Gandhi

A friend of mine sent me a wonderful link which reveals, in summary, the contents of letters written by Leo Tolstoy to Mohandas Gandhi. Tolstoy was strongly advocating that love and passive resistance were needed to free people from disenfranchisement.

Here are two quotes from Tolstoy that I plucked from the link.

It is natural for men to help and to love one another, but not to torture and to kill one another.

As soon as men live entirely in accord with the law of love natural to their hearts and now revealed to them, which excludes all resistance by violence, and therefore hold aloof from all participation in violence — as soon as this happens, not only will hundreds be unable to enslave millions, but not even millions will be able to enslave a single individual.

Given the gravitas, causes and notoriety of these men, this is a fascinating read. The summary is not too long, but does offer links to the letters.

A key takeaway that resonates still today is fear mongering has been around for a long time. It serves as an enabler for a few to oppress the many. Per Tolstoy and Gandhi, it is defeated with love and passive resistance, not violence. In fact, Tolstoy rightfully asserts violence only begets more violence.

What makes this so impactful is Gandhi was an influence on Martin Luther King, so these writings are a terrific window into the seeds of civil disobedience.

https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/08/21/leo-tolstoy-gandhi-letter-to-a-hindu/