Sunday Inspiration: Living Together
“Civility is the sum of the many sacrifices we are called to make for the sake of living together.” Stephen L. Carter
Did you know this coming Tuesday is election day?
OK, it’s a tiny election day when almost no one is running for anything, but let’s think of it as good practice for the next BIG election.
I don’t remember a time in my life when our country has been so polarized and divided and when civility has become such a severe casualty on the battlefield of our democracy, not even during the Vietnam/Nixon era. The difference? In those days social media wasn’t even a distant star twinkling over the Silicon Valley. We got our news from reputable sources we trusted, and people like Woodward and Bernstein could do their jobs without being barraged with shouts and tweets of “Fake News.”
These days I continually ask myself, how did we get here, and most importantly, how can we begin to bring civil conversation back into the mainstream of American life.
I was inspired when I read these insights last week in the New York Times column by David Brooks. I encourage you to read the entire piece — on “How To Engage A Fanatic.”
Brooks’s suggestion is that “You engage fanaticism with love…” That might sound a bit like corny Beatles’ lyrics, but his point? If we confront the anger of others with our anger we’re on a slippery slope to becoming a different brand of fanatic. We are guaranteed to lose our soul in that vicious battle.
Instead, writes Brooks, we should treat the person we disagree with as a precious life who has a rationale — no matter how senseless it may seem to us — that grows out of his or her experiences. We should show our respect by listening to what they believe and why they believe it, and then we should ask that person to listen to us in the same spirit.
Treating those we oppose with love, respect, and kindness, may increase our dental bills because of the intense gnashing of teeth, but I agree that as hard as it is, this is a way of life that is good for our spirits, good for our lives, and good for the country we love.
We each have three years before the next BIG election to practice it. It’s never too soon to start.
Again, so timely Emilie. I try not to think of the things that “might” happen before the next big election. David Brooks has a point; anger begets anger, revenge begets revenge, etc. I think of my grandmother a lot these days. She inspired my love for quotes. Whether hers were original or not, she always made sense. These days her “beauty is only skin deep but ugly goes all the way to the bone” befits country and lack of civility on all sides.
That is a great philosophy but to love Trump and listen to him when he won’t listen to what you have to say is tough. I am terrified of what he will do to our medical and retirement. My husband and I have medical problems and pre existing conditions and we live on a fixed income. It is scary
A lot of people are frightened, and it’s very hard to tell what’s going to happen down the line. I appreciate where you’re coming from, and my fingers are crossed that good sense prevails over this and many issues.
Emilie, I did attempt to comment earlier today. I posted my comment, received the prompt to confirm, did so, saw the “awaiting moderation” when I went back to your site to see if it was in the comments, still have the response from my confirmation action but cannot find it. I don’t think there was anything in there that would have been offensive, just wondering if there is something wrong on my end. Good job by the way!
Martha, my blog comments are set up so that people who comment often don’t have to go through moderation. That said, I’ve noticed that for some weird reason known only to cyber-fairies, your comments have to be moderated. Every single time. It’s nuts, and has nothing to do with anything you say or have done. It’s some glitch. So I always have to hand approve them–and love to, so it’s no problem. But this time I was on a plane coming back from OH to FL. So it took longer. I’ll try and ask my web folks again if we can do something about this. In the meantime, I’ll just keep approving, even if it occasionally takes a few extra hours to get i tup.
Thanks Emilie. Don’t fret on your end. This is the first time that it did not eventually go through. Happy to hear you are safely back in your home.