The rhetoric and actions of many around the country is becoming a problem. It would seem that civility is becoming a thing of the past. Not too long ago, disagreements were handled for the most part within the arena of the disagreement. Now there are calls, even from elected officials, to follow people they disagree with as they go throughout their daily lives, even to their homes, and to heckle them whenever and however they can. For example, Maxine Waters, a Representative of California to the U.S. Congress said recently:
“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”
This type of speech, while generating news headlines and garnering attention, is juvenile. It is never acceptable in a civil society to advocate mob rule. It is embarrassing that an elected official who is supposed to lead would be advocating such actions. It is also dangerous. Many in the country are becoming emboldened to act based on recommendations and calls to action from people in positions of trust, such as Waters. When people with one set of ideas are followed to their homes and persecuted, these are actions not just of incivility, but are approaching violence.
If we continue to go down this path it is likely that actual violence will become commonplace and ideological divisions will continue to increase. To avoid something akin to a civil war, we must reign in our words and start to try and understand one another.
Last week I was able to spend some time with many of my family. We live all around the country and as such gather only once every three years for a reunion. Last week we spent some time together near Yellowstone National Park. The picture is of falls we hiked to on one outing. Nature is beautiful, but I couldn’t help but wonder about the beliefs of the thousands of people I saw there (the place was BUSY!). A civil discussion regarding ideology is almost not possible anymore. Many are afraid to even open their mouths for fear of being vilified. I felt that way as I was walking around. No one should ever have to experience that.
This direction of intolerance is not healthy for our country. Strength is achieved by discussing differences, even heatedly at times, but always respectfully. I call for a return to civility.