I worry about all the shouting these days

Politics has become very confrontational these days, so much so that the Congress would rather provoke the opposition with tirades rather than work together to actually accomplish something. Even a watered-down improvement in a major issue is likely to be better than inaction.

Most of us know that when a business meeting, city council meeting, or family discussion turns into exaggerations and shouting matches, nothing good will come out of it. Protestors and members of Congress seem to have forgotten this.

In a Facebook discussion yesterday, I got into a debate with somebody who said we are duty-bound as citizens to become counter-protesters whenever a group we despise holds a rally or a “parade.” I disagreed. When certain groups, and their opposites, meet on a city street, the result is shouting. By itself, that accomplishes nothing. Sometimes it leads to violence and property destruction. The news media has a field day and the group that scheduled the march gets a lot of publicity.

I would rather ignore them. Let them have a march that’s met with absolute silence. That hardly makes the news. I grew up in a county where the KKK had a march about once every month or so. Those who supported the KKK stood and watched them go by on the street. Those who didn’t support them stayed away. The result: the news media had nothing to report and nobody got killed or arrested.

Then, as now, anyone yelling verbal threats at the marchers (or getting in their faces) is committing a crime (assault). Is it worth getting arrested to tell members of a group one doesn’t like that they’re really full of it? That’s what they want you to do. That gives them news coverage and lends some of their opposition in jail. Who’s the winner here?

When this kind of thing happens, we all lose. Instead of dialogue that might lead somewhere, we maintain the angry status quo where nothing gets fixed.

–Malcolm

Does everyone in the U.S. need an anger management class?

“How dare you don’t agree with me, you ignorant bastard.”

I’ve seen responses like that so often on Facebook that I seldom get involved in political “discussions.” Looking at this, and many of the protests, some commentators are asking why “everyone” is so angry.

Maybe we’re just flat tired of the ultra-polarized world we’ve suddenly found ourselves in. There seem to be few shares of grey: you either support a candidate or belief system 100% or you’re scum. There’s seldom an alternative. If you’re a moderate, in years gone by, you might have been a peacemaker, one who’s trying to bring together extreme views into a consensus. Now, moderates get beat up online by the extremists on both sides of the political aisle.

We’re told that our silence is consent in so far as nasty issues are concerned. Yet when we speak out, we’re lambasted by a lot of angry people when we don’t buy into one extreme or the other hook, line, and sinker. I see more shades of grey than either/or, but there’s little I can say online to combat those who are 100% for XYZ and those who are 0% against XYZ because all of those people sound like they’re getting their talking points from the same kinds of places. That is, they aren’t speaking for themselves but for a point of view, that’s (apparently) beamed into their minds by a BORG mothership or a PAC or a political party.

It appears to me that a lot of people feel very uncomfortable when the views they’ve had for a lifetime are questioned by others. Quite often, those views were considered mainstream, the kinds of things that “everybody” in the country believed in. Now, people are finding out that the kind of views that might have seemed reasonable in the 1950s aren’t reasonable today. So, they don’t know how to respond other than with anger and profanity.

Some people wonder if all this anger will send the country into another civil war. I don’t think so, though I can see why many people might think that our differences cannot be healed peacefully. In general, I have a live and let live viewpoint. If another person or group is not a real and present danger to you and others, why get upset about it? Yet a fair number of people apparently think that their religion and their value system and their yardstick of right and wrong should be applied to everybody else. I don’t get it.

I have always believed that the tenets of one’s religion apply only to those who subscribe to that religion rather than the public at large. A lot of the anger seems to come from the belief that “whatever my god tells me to do applies to those with other religious beliefs.” I think that’s an arrogant stance. Why do any of us need to control another person based on our own religious beliefs? Why do people fight like hell to impose their religious beliefs on others via state and federal law? Anger often seems to be a result of this kind of thinking.

We seem to have gone past the point where civilized debate is possible. Personally, I think that if a protester or a politician or an activist cannot listen to the opposition, their cause is suspect. That is, they are not sure of their enough of their stance to be civil. Or even human.

If you look at the political speeches of the day, the commentaries about those speeches, and the fallout on social media, you’ll see–I think–that more people want to be aggrieved than want to find unity.

–Malcolm