Almost anyone past the age of 11 knows not to say anything even a tiny bit controversial about your religion or your parents’ opinion of the current political mess. That means not even within your own family — unless you want to turn important dinners or other family get-togethers into a scalding free-for-all.
Further, to do so online brings every myopic, psychopathic troll out of the sewer system. There is no pretense of civility in their violent outlooks on life. It’s even funny, though pathetic, to discover the inner persona of someone you’d “known” for a while, after he or she has moved away and still posts to Facebook. You see a side of them you didn’t know existed. No one even has to bother being anonymous online. Yet it’s disturbing to see their newfound freedom to spout ugly biases and to shame their professed religious beliefs in Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father.
I’ve seen nothing remotely Christian in the twisted expressions of hate that people pen on a regular basis. Just because someone doesn’t happen to support bullies and tyrants of any stripe, doesn’t mean their other beliefs are right or wrong. While we’re at it, let’s leave political parties out of this. The Indies and Liberty advocates have no power and limited influence; the donkeys and elephants are equally mired in the muck.
When a society has turned away from God who preserved this land for Believers, then chaos, vitriol and shameful behavior are what you’re going to get. But … you don’t have to spread it further. You can stop it right now, right in front of you. If you don’t like people of a particular religious persuasion, get back to your own faith base or find a new one and start building up humanity instead of tearing it down. The poor, and the needy, and the downtrodden will always need help and a hand up. You can’t give away your livelihood. That would be stupid. Yet you can, and many people do, perform just a little pro bono work in whatever field of expertise you own. It’s also called doing something to pay the rent for the space you occupy on Earth.
Saddest of all is that it isn’t just religion or politics that sets off the already unhinged. Try posting a comment on a sewing blog or a cooking blog, announcing that, per Ms. Expert, ric-rac ribbon or hot-dog-and-corn-slurry might now be in favor again. Good grief! Frankly, the rest of us really don’t care to hear your screaming fits because something that went out of style is now back. It may be a cute item. It may be ugly. It may taste like you imagine dog poop to be. (My husband couldn’t speak for the women in the military but the men called what the kitchen often served up for dinner “chit on a chingle,” pronounced just that way.)
Try being polite in your dismissal of shudders from your earlier life. Don’t automatically attack the messenger or immediately forward the latest abusive comment. Especially if it’s a brand new idea for you, think carefully for a whole minute before you overreact and hit Send. You may end up with a little egg on your face, just like the embarrassed driver who had plastered provocative bumper stickers on his vehicle and later found out they couldn’t be removed without more effort than it was worth.
This country is in dire need of civility if we’re ever going to communicate to solve the big problems. Right now, we can’t even resolve the itty-bitty irritations. To do either requires that we rewire our brains to accept that we are not always right about anything, let alone everything. Neither are others always wrong. We need to start listening with our hearts more than our heads.
Why is that person supporting that candidate? Is he the one their conservative parents would have voted for and that’s been pounded into their kids? Could it be because he or she believes that everyone should have food to eat, a roof over their head, and a job? No one should have to live in fear of their lives or safety. It won’t be too humiliating after all to buy your clothes from a thrift store when you have to, but no one should have to wonder where that next bite of food is going to come from, or how they’re going to pay for their daughter’s broken arm.
Almost all of us are surely capable of being nicer people. We can give that a try more often. Let’s tone down the rhetoric and replace the frustration and anger with positive action that improves the world around us.