What would happen… If for one week, social media commenters decided to be polite about disagreements? No one called anyone Hitler or demeaned another person, even if they disagree on something? What if that even included politicians? No, I really don’t want to hear, “ya that’d be fine but [XYZ] person/party/group would never do it” I wonder, does defending ones sincerely held positions require us to blast the character of the person we disagree with? I was thinking today as I was driving that I love – absolutely love – good debate on important topics. But it is rarely possible because of how emotional and angry people get. I really try hard to disagree without attacking people personally. Or implying that they are idiots when I strongly disagree with their position or ideas. I’m sure that I’ve implicitly called people idiots even when I’ve not explicitly done it. So I’m not preaching anything I don’t take to heart. I was thinking also as I was driving about a recent debate with someone I had that I’m convinced has the very best of intentions and is caring but who I think has prescribed utterly unworkable, illogical positions (and if you’re one of the many I debate with, don’t ask me if its you). What if we all could just realize the inherent humanity in those we disagree with? To be sure, there are definitely people who are so jaded and angry that reasonable polite debate is impossible. I’m not so naive as to think we can all just sit around and solve everything with a group hug. If I conclude that someone is like that, I usually just disengage entirely. But I think it’s actually a fairly small percentage of the population. Call me naive, but as I encounter people of all sorts of backgrounds in my daily life, I sense that most – even those who think my philosophy is wrong – are actually pretty decent folks at the core. I suspect that anger breeds anger, hate breeds hate and if we can’t arrest devolution into complete tribal warfare, everyone will lose big. Let’s look inwardly a bit more and see if we can’t raise the politeness level of ourselves – you can’t control anyone else so saying “ya those nasty so-and-so’s really oughta do that” is a bit pointless. Don’t agree about things you don’t agree with (no matter WHAT those things are) but don’t hate anyone you disagree with. Stepping off my soapbox now.
And a fun video illustration: