I’ve heard many people wonder this week about how this country can tone down the extremes in politics. It doesn’t start with politics. It starts with each adult practicing tolerance and teaching it to the next generation. Whether you like or dislike a president, a member of Congress or your neighbor, there is no room for the vitriol that is spewing out of our media. I am not blaming the media for many people’s bad behavior, but I am saying that our vast media allows more and more people to be influenced and provoked. The violence we hear and see does adversely affect many people – especially those who are mentally ill.
I used to think my grandmother was a little old fashioned when she would make me follow her rules of etiquette and be polite to others. I now understand that she was using tradition to teach me how to be nice to others even when I couldn’t see why it was needed. Now I am grateful to all those little things she drilled into me. I’m sure she looks down from heaven and chuckles when I thank her.
I have friends who are on both sides of the aisle politically but we can have fun conversations about different issues without getting mean to each other or accusing each other of being horrible people or lying. Most Americans are like that. Most of us can separate fact from fiction as well. Maybe it is time for us to speak out regularly and forcefully when we hear or see the extreme behavior or outright lies. I was very pleased when CNN fired Kathy Griffin after her rude, vicious photo of a beheaded Trump. That is exactly what the network should do whenever anyone promotes that type of bad behavior.
After the horrible shooting this week at the Republican baseball practice, many of the various talking heads opined that perhaps now some civility shall return to our politics. I hope so but unless we all take the pledge to try to behave courteously in our own lives, it is doubtful that society as a whole will do so easily. I will start by trying to remember all of the lessons my grandmother tried to teach me and I will add one that didn’t exist in her day: I will turn off the television or the radio or the computer whenever I hear rude or vicious or inaccurate facts from any source. Even if I agree politically with whomever is speaking or writing, if I turn off the source, perhaps some computer in the sky will know that I don’t approve and pass that on to the advertisers!