The NRA, in it's now famous fund raiser, begged for more money to fight the "Jack-Booted Fascist" federal agencies (particularly the Dept. of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) it so despises. Jesse Helms calls for cuts in funds to fight AIDS, describing it as a disease transmitted via "deliberate, disgusting, revolting conduct" by people "engaged in unnatural acts". (He doesn't explain why he wants to also cut off the same funding to the children either born with AIDS or those of all ages who acquired it through blood transfusions or even the policeman who recently tested positive for HIV after a violent confrontation with a suspected drug addict.) Dole degrades Hollywood for films that debase his so-called "family values" and then recommends three movies made by long time Republican supporters that are chock full of violence, nudity and vulgarity. Everybody seems to hate single mothers on welfare but can only offer ignoring them completely as a solution. The list seems endless and is constantly changing.
Well, here's the deal, folks. To someone, somewhere, you're the enemy. All belief systems are the mortal foe of some other belief system. Each of you reading this is the cause of all the world's problems, at least in someone else's opinion. Do you feel evil? Someone thinks you are. Do you feel responsible for all the problems in someone else's life? They think you are. Are you doing these heinous things consciously? Are you even aware of it?
Isn't it possible that we are all simply searching for someone to blame? When life is difficult, America seems to need someone to hate. The problem, to me, is that there is no end of folks who create enemies to absolve themselves of messes they themselves created.
We must, and I do mean must, stop behaving as if a difference of opinion is a personal insult. This country was founded on the premise that any truly free society must include the right of all individuals to hold and express any opinion they may have, no matter what the majority may believe. The hate filled nonsense that passes for political discussion in this nation must stop. Only through honest and open debate can our differences be resolved.
What can one person do to become involved in bringing our nation into a place where words are used to come to a consensus rather than just to hurt and belittle? Here are a few suggestions.
When you hear commentators make fun of or insult someone to try to make some point rather than use logic and facts, write to them and express your feelings. Tell them that sarcasm and ridicule are the only arguments an uninformed person has. Explain that you will complain to their sponsors and producers if they continue, then do so.
When politicians air those disgusting negative ads in the media, write to them, too. Tell them that unless they use their time explaining what they stand for rather than belittling who their opponents are then you will either vote for their opponent or even a third or fourth party candidate and, again, do so. Once the major candidates begin seeing voting percentages rising for those who do not debase the process with these ads or, even better, third party candidates winning their offices, the message should be clear.
Finally, and most importantly, stay informed about today's issues. Not from any one source but read and listen voraciously. The vast majority of the understanding so many have of the issues comes from one or two very biased sources. You must have facts to have an honest opinion.
Let me hear from you. What do you think about our politics, our society? How would you improve the way things are and why? Just write to this paper. That's easy enough, isn't it?
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