Politicians Need to Compromise
As children, we heard the familiar saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Of course, we all know the insanity of that old adage because name calling does hurt, no matter how hard we try to hold our heads up and deflect criticism. My mother would tell me, “Now honey, just remember it takes a bigger man to walk away from a fight.” Oh, how I wanted to believe those kind words that were filled with so much love.
In the 1960s, my school had two groups of students. One group was called the “Clicks” and one was called the “Studs.” The “Clicks” wore Madras shirts, dress slacks and loafers. Most had neatly groomed hair, some played sports and many were members of various school clubs. Then there were the “Studs.” This group of students had their hair slicked back and combed into a DA (duck’s ass), wore black pegged pants and Cuban heeled boots. You didn’t find “Studs” in any school clubs and certainly, they weren’t involved in sports or after school activities. One of these boys started picking on me for God knows what reason. At first, I was intimidated and then slowly I started getting angry. His pursuit to make my life miserable was endless and eventually I had to take action. In gym class, we would line up single file and at attention. I made it a point to stand next to my adversary. When the gym teacher turned his back I took my right knee at full force and jammed it into the side upper thigh of my tormentor. I dropped him like a sack of potatoes and brought tears to his eyes. Sometimes you simply have to fight fire with fire and from that moment forward this boy never bothered me again and as a matter of fact, we even hung out together from time to time.
Fast forward from the above to modern day politics and it is obvious to the most casual observer how aggressive bullies have become. I think because of the inflammatory nature of political opinion, many people shy away from getting involved and voicing whether they are pro or con regarding a certain issue. After all, once the opposition knows what your opinion is then you had better be prepared for the barrage of negative commentary and even personal attacks, both physically and verbally. Quite frankly, I am disgusted by a lack of respect some have for others who do not agree with them. When did our country turn into a one party system? Seriously, just pause for a moment and really think through the meaning behind that question. There was a time, in the not too distant past, where compromising contrasting ideas was a way to work through differences in philosophies and ultimately come up with a workable solution. If you have the moxie to stand up and voice yourself on a host of subjects, then you better put on your armor to deflect the verbal assaults that most definitely will occur.
I’m sure most of us remember in November 2001 when then-President George W. Bush proclaimed to the world, “You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.” I don’t think there are many statements as divisive as this one. It leaves no room for negotiation, compromise or neutrality. While I understand the reasoning behind Mr. Bush’s declaration, figuratively he drew a line in the sand between what he believed was correct, thereby leaving no other options on the table. The masses picked up on the President’s statement and then tweaked it to mean, “You are either with my ideas and political affiliation or you are against me and my country and if you dare stand on the other side of the line then you should just get the hell out of my country.” What a simplistic, ill thought out way to think. There are some who feel empowered by hiding behind the anonymity of a screen name. These cowardly writers have found freedom and are proving to be the worst type of bullies because they take great pleasure in attacking everything about another, including their patriotism, without even knowing anything about the other individual. The person who is the brunt of wrath may, in fact, be their neighbor, the person they share a pew with on Sunday, or the one standing at attention with a salute or hand on heart during the National Anthem at a sporting event.
Sadly, the bullies of words and character are present wherever there is an exchange between writer and commenter. Just recently I left a reply to an article that was contrary to my views. All I did was state my feelings and position on the author’s story, along with mentioning Cheney and my disgust with water boarding. I then received the following response: "What planet do you freak of nature liberals come from? he lied, he lied, he lied! Are you with me now? Are we seeing eye to eye?" Also, in part, "Want to know how insensitive and cruel we conservatives are pages? I don't care if they slowly pull their fingernails off if it will save the lives of my children! You do not deserve to live in my country! You make me so angry and frustrated that horrible minded people like you exist!" Really, I’m a horrible person? Am I a freak of nature? I don’t deserve to exist? Finally, the most hideous, rotten statement anyone could possibly write about me…”You do not deserve to live in my country.” I was so enraged by the last comment that it brought me back in time to the 1960s and the “Stud” that needed to be taught a lesson in civility. That boy learned his lesson and I would love to teach this person as well.
Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Conservative, Moderate, Progressive, are all labels. However, the most powerful label we should all carry is that of a united country and a proud American. Discourse is understandable and fully acceptable until it turns into personal and slanderous forays. It appears as though some, who in their zest to be right, toss aside decorum and respect for those with opposing views. Stop, think, and be thoughtful when responding to those who disagree with you. In other words, it is high time adults start acting like adults and not the childhood bully on the playground of life.
Written By: Dennis L. Page