*Jeanna steps up on soapbox to air a grievance.*
Look, I’m probably preaching to the choir here. At least, I hope I am. But I’ve got to get this said: All human beings deserve some minimal level of civility. Even people whose opinions and actions we can’t stand.
When I was growing up, my dad had a rule: Never call anyone “stupid.” I don’t know how he managed it, but by and large I remember my siblings abiding this rule, as well as just generally not calling one another mean names. I still have a hard time even saying “stupid.” It just feels . . . wrong.
However, my dad also had an exception: politicians. Politicians got called all sorts of bad things in our household.
I don’t know that I gave it much thought when I was a kid, but when I think of it now, this just doesn’t sit right with me. Politicians, incidentally, happen to be human, just like the rest of us. Sure, they’re out there in the public realm more than most of us, and they had better have some seriously thick skin, but their thick skin doesn’t entitle us to behave badly.
And that’s what I see constantly, especially in politics, but in other areas online as well. People behaving just really badly.
You’re allowed to disagree, you’re allowed to critique, you’re allowed to think someone else’s politics are downright appalling. But if you aren’t capable of doing anything beyond calling them and their ideas stupid, then I’m really not very impressed.
Now, honestly, I usually stay out of politics. This probably has something to do with the atmosphere in which I was raised—where everyone was treated reasonably kindly, except the politicians. It also has to do with just having a nonconfrontational personality. I don’t really like conflict. I do, however, have some pretty strong opinions this time around, and none of them are very pleasant to dwell on. But I’m a human being, capable of choosing the words I use. Better yet—I’m a writer! I know how to wordsmith, right? I can refine the words I use so they are clear, reasonable, and respectful. And so can everyone else. What a nice world that would be.
If nothing else, can we all just remember an incredibly basic tenet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Little children sing it all over the world just about every Sunday. “I am a child of God.” And by extension, so is everyone else—the politician you can’t stand, the anonymous commenter on some internet chat board, the rude lady who did a lousy job of bagging your groceries the other day, and your next door neighbor who’s just a little too nosy.
Now imagine that you are saying your words to this “child of God’s” face—with that Heavenly Parent standing just behind him/her.
Would you do it?
If not, maybe try just a little bit harder to be civil.
*Jeanna steps off soapbox.*