I can hear and smell the flames daily in the political climate that has become the basis of casting blame for what seems to be the second of two civil wars in our nation.
The embers of hot, glowing coals of politics are all around us these days, and a tremendous adrenalin rush for many comes from throwing the gasoline of self-righteous indignation onto those embers. The results are explosions of varying levels of terror and hate mongering. Vindication seems no longer to come from bridled and reasonable discussion but rather from name-calling and pre-packaged insults that we as a nation seem more and more to see as strengths, instead of the weaknesses they really are. We have forgotten the psychological truth that greater weakness lies within the bully, not the bullied. Every tenet we once honored from profound and timeless messages like the ones from Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. have been sacrificed upon the altar of power, money and simply “winning.”
We have stereotyped the once meaningful ideals of the Republican and Democratic political parties to the point at which neither is any longer recognizable. We have only to use one of those two labels in order to stir up anyone who uses the opposing word. Of course, both parties have always been opponents, as should be expected in a democracy, but it seems that opposition used to be more of a yin/yang relationship that somehow, even with some rancor, achieved things for the good of the country as a whole, not just as in some child’s game, where one side wins and the other side loses.
I have a deep desire (call it nostalgia if you must) to see people of both political realms actually listening to each other once in a while and seeing a wider view that goes beyond mere political points. Money and power have always been impediments to mass progress but are not the only difficulties.
It’s almost as though we have, as a country, divided ourselves in a way that has perhaps been building up slowly since 1865, so that we are almost two nations at war once again. Daily I see people who are otherwise loving parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, and citizens throwing gasoline on those embers of political mistrust and discontent, as the flames grow even greater on television (which rather than always informing us, divides us still further) through “information” empires like Fox News and MSNBC (the two extremes that provide more emotional gasoline than OPEC ever did).
Though the adrenalin rush of indignation may feel good temporarily, it doesn’t seem to be helping our wonderful nation achieve again the oneness upon which we were once founded. We seem to have forgotten the word, “United” in our very name.
So the next time the temptation arises to toss a cup of gasoline upon a political ember, think about what it might impede or even destroy, more than the temporary adrenalin rush it may give to self-esteem. Have your say without resorting to cheap insults, and above all, listen without insisting that the result be achieving more game points for your own ego. JB