Saturday, May 08, 2010

Is There No Room For Dialogue in America?

Over the past 3-4 weeks I've had several experiences that make me wonder about the future of the USA.

Politically, I am a registered independent. I hold some views that are normally considered to the right of the political spectrum (eg. I am pro-life, I think vouchers are a good idea for our public school system), and some views that are generally considered to the left of the political spectrum (I am a firm believer in gun control, I would favour a single payer healthcare system). I also believe that it is possible to have intelligent discussions on political issues without resorting to name-calling, inflammatory language, labeling, etc. I think if we actually listened to each other with humility and "with our hearts" we could actually work together to make positive changes on those issues that our country is grappling with.

However, my experiences of the last few weeks makes it hard for me to believe that our politicians or many of those engaged in politics on the "grass roots" level actually listen to each other -- or want to listen to each other. Instead, each side appears to prefer lecturing each other -- and if the object of the lecture doesn't agree - simple to talk longer, louder and with increasingly more inflammatory language.

A friend of mine and I both had experiences on Facebook recently that illustrate this. He happened to mention that he recently met a well known Republican politician. Immediately he was assailed by what can only be described as "diatribes" by people on the right wing of the Republican party who disagree with this particular politician. The comments were so egregious, that he had to remove them from the post and defriend those involved.

I posted a survey on what people in various countries thought about their respective healthcare systems. This led to a number of individuals attacking me because the US ranked #7 on the survey. Name calling and vilifying resulted. One individual suggested that I leave the USA. When I contacted a particular individual privately, they continued their "lecture". Conversation was impossible. I deleted the entire post and comments & made a public commitment to never say anything remotely political on Facebook again.

Today I received a phone call from a political party asking for my opinion on some issues. When I disagreed with the content of the phone call I was immediately cut off. It was clear that the only people they wanted to talk to were those that agreed with them. Apparently, it is important for me to hear their perspective -- but totally unimportant for them to hear mine.

I know that these are not isolated incidents as a result of contact with a few "crazy" people. As I look over the political landscape of the USA -- I find this kind of behaviour is increasingly becoming the norm.

We don't listen to each other. We demonize those we disagree with. We label people and resort to name calling.

If we continue along this road -- then there is little hope for the positive change in this country.

It makes me sad.

1 comment:

Anita and Bruce Hensley said...

"The poundin' of the drums, the pride and disgrace
You can bury your dead, but don't leave a trace
Hate your next-door neighbor, but don't forget to say grace..."

so sorry brother...