“If you disrespect anybody, that you run in to “How in the world do you think, anybody’s s’posed to respect you? ”
The Staple Singers
Pretty much every day I see posts and tweets from people that attack other people in the most crude and vicious manner and most of those people they have never met and know nothing about. Nonetheless, it doesn’t stop the mob from their verbal assaults. It’s everywhere these days. We no longer debate issues on their merits, we simply demean each other with verbal attacks and countless ridiculous graphics that point out the stupidity of liberals or conservatives or Muslims or gays or Christians or gun advocates or gun control supporters or – you get the picture. The list is endless.
Log into any major newspaper, pick any columnist’s opinion piece and skip to the comments below it. Within two or three comments, the discussion is no longer about the pros and cons of the issue, it is an unrelenting attack on other people who have commented and usually with no other objective than to point out how stupid everyone else is and how smart they themselves are.
It seems to me that if the only way you can prove your point is by trying to undermine the opinions of others rather than promoting your own; you not only don’t have the facts on your side – you don’t have much self-confidence in your opinion and very little self-respect.
And as the song goes – if you don’t respect everyone with whom you disagree, how is anybody supposed to respect you?
I often wonder what the point is of it all. This constant lack of civility certainly isn’t changing minds and only an idiot would believe that continually telling others how stupid they are because they don’t vote or believe or think like you do is actually going to bring them around to your way of thinking.
Much of it is arrogant nonsense by an unbelievable number of uninformed people and arrogance is a very poor substitute for ability. Prejudice, bias and an unwillingness to stay open to the facts is simply just dangerous to our societies specifically and democracy in general.
“You the kind of gentleman that want everything your way Take the sheet off your face, boy; it’s a brand new day”
Everybody lays claim to the right to freedom of speech but too few accept the responsibilities that go with it.
Some of what passes for discourse these days is outright hate speech and an unwillingness to respect the same rights for others that they demand for themselves but I think that in many cases; it is something more.
I think it betrays not only a lack of self-respect but an even greater lack of self-confidence and a general insecurity that is rampant in many of us these days. Too many, including most of our politicians, seem only able to find a sense of self-worth by demeaning others; their ideas and opinions. It seems odd to me that people don’t understand that showing disrespect for others actually betrays a lack of respect for yourself.
Ever since 9/11 we’ve changed. What happened that day underscored that we are vulnerable and that our governments are not necessarily capable of protecting us. Since then we’ve have seen repeated instances when our governments failed and I believe that has generated a high degree of anxiety.
We’re tired of being over-taxed and lied to by a political leadership that misspends our money and is increasingly incapable of dealing with the issues that are of concern to us. We’re tired of a political leadership that has denigrated our legislatures with adolescent acrimony and reduce elections to nothing more than cheap shots and fabrications about the opposition rather than a clear presentation of the issues and the solutions being offered.
Our constitutional rights as citizens are slowly being eroded and it raises our level of anxiety. We don’t know what to do about it and rather than uniting and demanding better from politicians, we choose sides but which side we choose is almost irrelevant. The anxiety remains unchecked because nothing changes and that causes people on both sides of the argument to lash out at each other rather than face the reality that it isn’t our neighbours who are responsible for the decline in our society.
Our governments are failing us and choosing political sides is not going to change that.
It isn’t just politicians, however, that have helped elevate the level of insecurity. Too many in the mainstream media hammer away at the blame game stereotyping entire groups of people and trying to hold them accountable for the cause of our insecurities.
“If you’re walking ’round think’n that the world owes you something ’cause you’re here You goin’ out the world backwards like you did when you first come here”
Cynical opportunists play on our fears to elevate themselves into full-time and quite often very lucrative careers. We trust almost nobody and certainly not our governments, political leaders, legal or educational institutions and so we accuse – we blame – we attack. It is always someone else’s fault, never our own and invariably those somebody elses are fools, idiots, twits, communists, fascists, stupid, Nazis, thieves, liars and the real threat to our society and the future of our children.
We have lost the ability or maybe the willingness to respect each other sufficiently to give others the benefit of the doubt. We are not only unwilling to consider that any point of view but our own and that of others who think like us is valid but that those who disagree with us are nothing less than stupid and need to be told so as often as possible.
What does anyone hope to accomplish with a constant barrage of angry accusation and name-calling? Certainly it isn’t going to change very many minds; it merely hardens opinions on all sides and leads, as we are witnessing in Ukraine, to making a challenging situation virtually impossible to resolve to anyone’s satisfaction.
Civility and respect are two of the cornerstones of a civilized society but more importantly – they are the foundation to earning our own self-respect. If you have no respect for others who disagree with you, it becomes virtually impossible to respect yourself after awhile because when push comes to shove; all you really have are the lies you’ve been telling yourself to try and support your ill-informed opinions and your prejudices.
Like the song says, “If you don’t respect yourself ain’t nobody going to give a good cahoot!”
© 2014 Maggie’s Bear
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