We Must Be Civil

Over the last week there has, thankfully and finally, been a call for some civility in political discourse.  In my time on the internet, I notice that the current round of political hate really ramped up around the 2000 election of GW Bush.  Many Gore supporters felt ripped off, slighted.  Possibly they were, as I would not be surprised to find that the election was tampered with in Florida, as alleged.  The backlash to this was immense, and really started off an entire “Kill Bush” meme that spread like wildfire among the populace, primarily the youth (who tend to be more idealistic in their thinking, and were the most disappointed by the results).

Then the 2004 election came, and it was another nail biter.  When Bush won THAT election, the hate was dialed up considerably.  I lived his last 4 years in fear that our nation would not survive his presidency.  I logged thousands of hours online during that time, interacting with others both domestic and abroad.  The utter lack of civility was astounding.  To see the way people would talk to each other…it was horrible.

Eventually I joined up with a forum that does a fairly good job of keeping the pure hate off the boards, but there is still this seething, boiling hate under the surface among many members, with frequent overspills that result in action by site administrators.

I mention my online activity as it relates to this, because I believe it gives you the best insight into how people are feeling about the issues.  But it has also shown me how people can be willingly led into madness by others.

So it is nice to see the recent cries for civility.  The President, who I am no fan of, nailed the speech at the memorial service.  It has to be a moment for history, honestly.  And outstanding display of leadership and oratory skill.  But beyond his obvious grace, it all falls apart.  You hear people constantly saying, “We need to be civil, but…”  He provided a moment of real, sincere leadership, and The People seem to have shrugged it off entirely.

There is no civility happening.  Just a lot of blaming, and trying to justify horrible behavior.  I see each side trying to show how the “other side” has done something just a little more wrong, in efforts to detract from the wrong that their ideology has done.  Yet, at the end of the day, we are left with a nation that sincerely owes itself a HUGE apology, a large dose of humility, and a time out to reflect on what is American, and what is right.

These calls for civility, yes they are righteous.  But it seems that no one is ready for it, despite the warning.

President Obama challenged the nation to live up to the expectations of our children.  I say that we don’t have the intestinal fortitude to even try.  But I will be damned if that critical point of failure is going to be me.  I, too, challenge you to live up to those expectations.   More so, live up to the expectations of those who have died preserving your opportunity for this challenge.

“Posterity: you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” – John Quincy Adams

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