Like many of you I was glued to the television and social media Monday watching our government act like young children. Each faction went to their corner and refused to talk with the other side. As the hours clicked on, the possibility of a government shutdown became more and more of a reality.
While the antics in Washington are concerning, frustrating (insert adjective here), what’s really disturbing is the conversation. As a child, I learned many lessons from my parents:
- Do unto others as you wish others to do unto you.
- Respect your elders.
- Listen to others. It’s how you learn.
- Understand there are others whose opinions are different. Learn from them.
What’s most frightening to me about today’s politics is that few people seem to be listening to each other. We seem to feel the only way to success is by demeaning other people. My parents taught me that was bullying.
They also taught me that words can hurt. That seems to be something else many have forgotten, especially on social networks. And it seems to be worse when it comes to the work of Congress. I have seen many examples of this detrimental language today. Many are similar to this (no edits made):
“As a U.S. Senator, you’ve crossed the line from blue to COWARDLY YELLOW!!! You are a turncoat and a traitor to the American people you claim to represent. Your vote for Cloture was a vote for Obamacare. There were 25 RHINO’s who voted to give Prince Harry the power to fund Obamacare.
You and your YELLOW brethren will be held responsible for handing anything that may have been left of our economy to the ENEMY. The downfall of the finest Healthcare System the Earth has ever known, rests on that YELLOW streak down your back!!!
May you BURN IN HELL!!!”
I don’t understand how comments like that help any of us. As Lauree Ostrofsky said last night,
“I just want people to treat each other like human beings.”
It seems simple but we seem to have forgotten how to do it. Maybe it’s as simple as thinking about others before talking/writing. Or as simple as putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Disagreeing with someone doesn’t have to result in meanness. I can be a healthy conversation as long as everyone is listening, and hearing what others are saying.
Here’s what I want everyone to do:
- Slow down and listen to other people and their views
- Stop and hear what other people are saying
- Open your mind to the viewpoints of others
- And finally, respond with respect in a way you would hope others would talk with you.
If we can do this, I am certain we can solve a lot of problems in our government, in the work place and in our personal lives. If we don’t, we’re going to continue to have problems and issues that will have an impact on our country for years to come.
Which will you choose? Listening, hearing and respecting? I hope so.
Previous posts on civility: Online Bullies – Are They Really That Different From Regular Bullies?