Thursday's Child ... has far to go ... (0nm10wn2feet) wrote,
Thursday's Child ... has far to go ...

  • Mood:

A revelation ...

I realized something today, reading through all the LJs I've discovered and been directed toward:

  1. I've been so focused on what I perceived as the injustice of being saddled with this President - a man that I consider to be hypocritical, moralistic, and far too unconcerned with the plight of the average American - that I've lost sight of the basics in my own life.
  2. I've also allowed myself to espouse some very condescending and relatively unkind attitudes toward those who cannot see my point or who do not share my opinion.
  3. I've failed to recognize and practice what I've "preached;" tolerance, understanding and HUMAN (or superhuman) kindness toward others.
  4. Worst of all, I realized that I had descended to the very same depths I've decried.

Instead of continuing to work to change things I could change around me, I retreated and contented myself with isolated, anonymous carping from the sidelines of my own LJ. I felt, with all the many slights and unkindnesses my children and I have borne at the hands of others, I was justified in doing so. I was wrong.

In this space, instead of railing against things, I am going to TRY to expound upon what I am FOR. Grammatically incorrect, but you get the point. Our country has seldom been this divided on such a range of issues since the un-Civil War. Whatever our reasons, discourse in America has become, on a personal level, far more ugly than in years past. I believe the time has come for people of reason to find SOME measure of common ground, and unite to further a return to individual civility.

In the following cut, I am going to expand on my idea of 'personal civility' and why I feel that we need - desperately - to foster its return.

To me, the idea of 'personal civility' means more than just being civil with one's friends and relations. It means that one should strive to be civil in ALL of one's discourse ... whether expressing one's dissatisfaction with a good or service, to expressing one's dissent with another's opinion. It means that one should strive (mightily, at times) to find SOMETHING in the other person's point of view that one can at least understand, if not agree with. In the case of political opponents, it means that one should allow for the free expression of opinion, as long as the opinion does not include denigration of those who don't agree.

When one descends into denigrating another for their fervently-held belief, it (obviously) does little to foster a spirit of understanding or cooperation in another. If that can be avoided, then the next step is to find that (sometimes) infinitesimal 'something' with which you can either agree or, at the least, express an understanding of the view. I know that I feel much better when I talk to people who make an effort to understand my point of view before they shoot right back with why it sucks. When you demonstrate that you are taking another's views seriously, people (sometimes) tend to be a little more understanding in return. Those who cannot even bring themselves to make the effort are, most likely, extremists whose views and opinions cannot be changed no matter what argument (using the term loosely) is used.

In the past, I've made it a habit to avoid dueling with extremists. It is often ugly, messy and is ALWAYS pointless. Regardless of my feelings on the outcome of the Presidential election, I doubt that the vast majority of Bush voters are truly extremists in the strict sense of the term. I believe that THEY believe they acted for what THEY perceive as the 'common good.' Many of them seem to believe that liberals like myself need to be saved from ourselves. I think, however, this is because they don't truly understand the basic motivation for many people's liberal attitudes.

In addition, I don't believe that the vast majority of Bush voters see themselves as 'conservatives' necessarily. I DO, however, believe that a majority of Bush voters have a skewed perspective of the term "liberal," and that they, for the most part, feel they have an obligation to their country to prevent its spread. Frankly, its interesting how many people voted for Bush based on "moral values," as some exit polls concluded. The "moral values" issue is one that I don't think very many people of any stripe have thought through to its logical conclusion. "Moral values" are very well and fine, and some are necessary for humans to actually interact successfully with each other, as predatory as we've been throughout time. The only dichotomy between "moral values" and conservatives is the amount of governance require to ENFORCE those "moral values" that they seem to feel are so sadly lacking today.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the Republicans, and many who espouse similar views, mainly concerned with shrinking the size of Federal government? Isn't that part of what Bush was carrying on about when he touted the fact that he wants the people to decide how they want to invest their money in the health care system? Yet, how much more "government" do we require in order to enforce restrictive 'morality' laws that, ultimately, affect a small percentage of the population? Why hasn't anyone asked about the expense it will take to amend the Constitution of the United States to reflect the "one man, one woman" belief in matrimony?

Overall, I think people opposing another Bush Presidency did not spend enough time highlighting the similarities between the conservatives with their goals and the liberals with theirs. Actually, simplistically, it all boils down to one basic, instinctive, HUMAN goal - all over the world. From the simple herdsman in Ethiopia trying to scratch out a living in the shadow of rebellion and unrest, to the gay couple trying to attain the same rights as any other 'committed, contractually-joined' couple in America. Survival. Pure and simple ... we all want to survive. We are all involved in the day-to-day struggle, some just have an easier time of it owing to wealth and/or privilege and/or status.

And, amongst that overwhelming urge to survive, we also feel the need to protect what we have already attained from any threat, real or perceived. Indeed, it is the perceived threat that I believe motivated so many to participate in this election. Perceived threats, in a number of studies, have proven to be as physically and psychologically compelling as real threats. And mankind, despite our fantastic evolution (and/or descent from a benevolent creator), has not progressed to the point where we (as a species) can successfully stymie the very real physical reaction we still have to perceived threat. We remain, at our core, both prey AND predator. As such, we are still susceptible to that impulse to eradicate all that is not conducive to our individual survival.

I know, "Is she going anywhere with this or just rambling?", right?? The point I have been trying to make, in case I've completely obscured it with minutia, is that we need to transcend our primal instincts. We need to use that formidable brain that has developed over the centuries. We NEED to see others less as threats to our continued existence and more as helpmates in a SHARED struggle for survival. And we need to do it in a CONstructive fashion rather than a DEstructive fashion. If anyone at all made it this far in reading ... my thanks, as well as my humble request that you weigh in with an opinion. I've garnered so many from my reading, but I still want to figure out where I fit in the overall thinking out there!

[I'm going to do what I can to help the people closest to me ... as a very wise woman said in her LJ today. Thanks to all who wrote their thoughts and beliefs and shared so much of their personal insight!]
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.