Political rhetoric can be stifled by speaking face to face
You’ve probably noticed that we all tend to get along until our political views come out. I blame this on our mental junk food diet: our favorite executives and media define reality for us. It makes us judge each other by what they say.
There are different opinions in any group, but one predominant message. It is usually reduced to mind-numbing simplicity or maddening contradiction by overtly partisan media and politicians who primarily serve themselves.
We had better listen to each other, find common ground and build trust. But going beyond superficial and antagonistic talking points is difficult when it comes to examining and questioning our own views.
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When we take an inflexible and hostile attitude, we shouldn’t be let down when we get the same in return. We can save ourselves a ton of aggravation by learning why other people see things and behave the way they do.
I’m trying to understand traditional and modern conservatism. Right and left call each other wicked, corrupt, and anti-American, but the dominant conservative message I’m hearing (wrongly, I guess) is that there is no middle ground; social justice is a shakedown; diversity is dangerous; accusation is proof; government helping those in need other than by reducing taxes, regulations, mandates and social spending is tyrannical socialism or communism; the vote is rigged if the Republicans lose; and the attempt to overturn the 2020 election was justified.
I never imagined that the Conservatives would be the ones who would try to overturn an election without legally recognized proof of significant wrongdoing and use the equivalency (Black Lives Matter carnage) to justify the chaos involved. But many apparently believe their traditional value of restraint hurts them and that compromise is surrender. At a reader’s suggestion, I read âWrath: America Enragedâ by curator Peter Wood.
This may be universal political rhetoric, but words like Donald Trump’s “fight like hell” on January 6 can easily make angry people literally fight. Millions of Americans are now saying violence may be necessary to achieve political goals, according to numerous polls.
I have used this quote before in columns about the BLM riots, but we should all heed the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: âViolence never brings permanent peace. It doesn’t solve any social problem; it just creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a downward spiral ending in destruction for all.
Some conservative readers tell me America’s spiral began with leftist riots after Trump was elected in 2016. I’ve seen such an action-reaction escalate since the 1960s when I was a child. . Conflict breeds conflict.
Sociologists say our society is drowning in emotions such as humiliation and fear of not belonging or rejection of the group for accepting other points of view. Rapid cultural, technological, demographic and economic changes and the pandemic are fueling uncertainty, causing people to see threats even where there are none.
Fear and misunderstanding lead us down a seductive but tragic path. So I quote, once again, journalist Mike Giglio who covered the civil wars in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine:
âWhen people talk about civil warâ¦ like the glory of the American Revolution, I mean, no, it’s just suffering,â Giglio said on the âFresh Airâ radio show. âIt’s not the red tunics against the patriots. It’s non-linear. These are civilians who die for no reason. These are not stories of heroism. These are stories of people who are afraid and cause destruction that they ultimately make no sense. “
We need to focus less on our electronic banquet of terrible negativity that plagues our perception of our daily lives, of others and of our common humanity. We should communicate directly, not through anonymous and insulting social media exchanges. We will find that we agree on more than we are led to believe.
My study of conservatism has only just begun. I await your ideas. I only ask you to be civilian. I am not your enemy.
Write columnist John Rolfe at [email protected] or visit his website Celestialchuckle.com