I have written about this before but I believe it to be important enough to readdress.
As a full time caregiver of my elderly father, who is still relatively functional, I often have a few spare daytime hours. I have taken to occasionally visiting my local newspaper’s website to read the various commentary on the news and opinions of the day offered by other readers. Over time the tendencies I have witnessed give me cause to be greatly alarmed at the state of what passes for argumentative conversation in modern dialogue.
These commentaries most often rapidly disintegrate into vicious adversarial Ad Hominem attacks by those of all political persuasions. I cannot stress more vociferously that this kind of nasty business is not the sole province of supporters of any political party or ideological group. Personal attacks seem to be an equal opportunity phenomenon. These unproductive conversations show up almost immediately, hijacking threads and making it nigh unto impossible to reasonably discuss the issue at hand.
Is this what we have descended to in America? Are we so full of vitriol that we cannot talk things over without calling each other hurtful names. These are our neighbors we are ridiculing. They are not enemies, they are our fellow citizens.
What I believe has been lost today is common self respect. I believe it is implied in one’s self respect that there is the expectation that others will also respect themselves. This creates an atmosphere where everyone can respect the lifestyles, decisions and opinions of everyone else, allowing for quality productive intercourse over any topic. We don’t have to agree with people to respect their opinions, no matter how egregious we find their positions. One could argue that differences of opinion lead to better solutions than simple agreement, for they introduce critical thinking into the problem solving process.
This lack of self respect is a disease from which we suffer greatly. When people cannot argue without personal attacks the issues are never fairly addressed and consensus is out of the question. When people only demonize each other there are only demons. Without productive discussion of the real issues I am afraid we will be simply be spinning our wheels instead of addressing the critical issues of our time.
Grow up people.