Wherefore art thou, Civility?

It’s a few months before the 2012 elections, and I’ve been reading about a couple of U.S. Senate debates in which the candidates have traded accusations about each others’ intentions and plans for the country when they get into office. One guy (“Challenger”) is accusing the other (“Incumbent”) of wanting to maintain the status quo regarding social policies (“things are fine, no changes are needed”), while Incumbent says that Challenger’s plans for change would bring about the Apocalypse. It’s my opinion that both Incumbent and Challenger – some backwoods lawyer named Abraham Lincoln – believe that their desired course is best for the country.

Even before Mssrs. Lincoln and Douglas squared off for their debates, politics has been a dirty business (think Julius Caesar, Ides of March, etc.).

But in this year, 2012, I’m appalled at the out-and-out lack of civility that we, Americans all, are exhibiting toward each other.

I will say up front that I’m conservative in matters concerning both religion and politics, and that, in my opinion, both the Bible and the U.S. Constitution say what they say, and that it’s not really in the realm of my authority to determine which parts of either one should be disregarded, nor would I want the weight of those ramifications to be on my shoulders.

It’s a human trait, I suppose, that when one is vested deeply in a particular ideology, either religion, politics, or some combination thereof, it’s difficult to even try to see an issue from another’s vantage point. At the same time, in our age of “enlightenment”, we Americans don’t even seem to be trying. We are showing such disregard for each other, and vitriol toward each other that it sickens me. I’m tired of it.

This used to be a lot longer, but let me end by saying this: In matters of faith and politics, you are free to agree with me or not. I will not think the poorer of you if disagree, but ask that you afford me the same consideration. Our disagreements do not make either of us stupid, uncaring or any of the other invectives being bandied about. They just make us different.

Finally, a few words to ponder:

“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
—C.S. Lewis

“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”
—William Pitt, 11/18/1783

“The unity of freedom has never relied on uniformity of opinion.
—John F. Kennedy

“People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.
—Soren Keirkgaard
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“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
—John Adams, Second President of the USA.

“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”
—Thomas Jefferson


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