The vile, graphic, hate-filled posts and comments from everyday people, celebrities, media persons and trolls are scaring me. Have you noticed a change? I have. A storm is brewing.
The tensions, anger and outright incivility has been increasing over the past few years, and frankly, it’s getting worse. A buddy of mine reported that a friend drew a line in the sand, commenting to her on fb, “If you don’t agree with me on this immigration issue, you’re a sick and horrible person.”
Really? If she has a differing viewpoint that makes her “sick” and “horrible?” I know her well, and she’s neither sick nor horrible, in fact, she’s a lovely and compassionate woman. She simply has another take on the issue.
Currently, people are using half-truths, blurred truths and outright lies to make their case. It’s always one big, juicy soundbite, which never fully explains an issue. Issues are complex and multi-faceted. Sometimes both opposing viewpoints are correct. Often, a nugget is never the full picture, yet it is used as the entirety of the situation. So, if you disagree with the nugget, you disagree with the issue.
That’s not how it works.
Today, people won’t settle for simply holding a viewpoint, they insist others must share their view, or they’re evil. Yes, not just holding a different opinion or seeing the issue from a different perspective, but they are actually evil. I’ve never heard the name Hitler bandied about so much as in the last few years, and most of those references are so far off base they’re akin to equating a campfire with a volcanic eruption.
“What if—hear me out—not every issue with which you disagree is morally equivalent to the policies of the worse mass murderers in history? ~Ben Shapiro
I’ve never seen such ill-mannered people acting as though they hold the moral high ground regarding their take on an issue, all the while liberally peppering their statements with vulgarity and venom. The anger inside them is real, and it’s expressed in extremely inappropriate ways.
I fear much of the spoken wishes of violence inflicted on others will manifest into actual acts of harm and murder. We speak that which we become, and it seems like a vast majority of people who hold strong views are speaking horrific outcomes on those who disagree with them. Right now, it appears to be mostly contained in the venues of social media and the news media, but I truly fear it is only a matter of time before the fringe violence (shootings and beatings by outliers) take hold in more mainstream ways. We could see mass violence before this decade is finished.
So, I want to encourage you to seek out someone who holds a different opinion and try to find some common ground. Entertain reasonable, calm discourse. Put out fires and calm tense situations. Be the sane voice of reason in disagreements. Don’t get personal, stick to the issues. Follow Covey’s Habits starting with, “Seek first to understand.” Assure others that you don’t have to agree, you just have to work on finding solutions for peace.
And, most of all, build bridges where and when you can.