Feeling world weary, disillusioned, and mired in grim and bitter cynicism at the moment. Social media will do that to you.
All my adult life I’ve heard Pollyannas preaching the scripture of “Don’t let them divide us! Focus on the things that bring us together, not the ones that set us apart!”
The things that set us apart are ignorance, xenophobia, hatred, fear, and the almost uniquely modern American capacity for viewing comfort as a God given civil liberty – not just physical comfort, but spiritual comfort, intellectual comfort, and emotional comfort, as well.
The world divides itself into many groups, but most of the problem that I am aware of come from the group of people who insist that if something offends them, whatever that something is, however little real harm that thing does, to them or anyone else, nonetheless, the fact that they have been offended is enough. Our society, our system of laws, our entire civilization must be structured around the concept that these people must, under all circumstances, be comfortable, that anything that makes these people feel disturbed or stressed or threatened or frightened or upset must be treated as a grievous crime against society in general (if not an outright act of war) and destroyed, regardless of the cost (to others, never to them).
What drives us apart is ignorance, xenophobia, fear and hatred and more than all of these, smugness and pettiness and the sure, sullen knowledge that we are right, and everyone else is wrong.
But, especially, what drives us apart is the enormous chasm of maturity and sanity that lies between the group of people that hates and fears every single thing that makes them in any way uncomfortable, and the other group, that understands that quite often, being an adult means putting up with things that displease us, but that do not in any way harm us, or anyone else.
I don’t know how to fix this, but I’ve stood my entire life on the side of the abyss that espouses tolerance for all points of view, and I’m coming to realize I’ve been wrong.
We cannot tolerate ignorance. We cannot tolerate pettiness. We cannot tolerate those who cannot tolerate. An inherent contradiction, but a very real truth.
The people who hate everyone who isn’t like them, because things that are different from them make them uncomfortable and afraid, are doing harm to us. Their viewpoint, their attitude, their behavior, is toxic. It is, literally, killing us.
I have always said I don’t know what to do about it, but I think I’ve just been reticent to speak the obvious truth.
Conservatives like to bellow that the Constitution is not a suicide pact, whenever they want to limit the liberty of anyone who disagrees with them.
I would like to say, quietly but with great conviction, that a person who allows the cancer that is killing him to have a vote on whether or not he gets chemotherapy, is a crazy man.
At the very least, we should take steps to weed ignorance out of the voting process. At the very least, every American citizen who wants to exercise a franchise should have to, once in their lives, pass the same exam that those who originate in foreign countries must pass, to earn their own citizenship, and their own vote.
A modest proposal. The very, very least, first step that should be taken, on the road to recovering a sane and civil society.