Monday, November 12, 2012

Where Has Decency Gone?

In 2008 John McCain did a remarkable and admirable thing. While campaigning during his run for the Presidency he was confronted by a a couple of his supporters who had cruel things to say about then-candidate Barack Obama. Senator McCain did an honorable thing – he defended his opponent. He showed everyone what a honor looks like. Some of us may have political differences with Sen. McCain but he showed us what decency looks like that day.

Most recently New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was openly appreciative of President Obama's attentiveness to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Gov. Christie has been taking savage criticism ever since. To me this is all incomprehensible, where has decency gone?

I've read over and over that President Obama is “dividing the nation.” This is a perversion of the truth – the people who refuse to accept and respect him in that office are dividing the nation but, of course, they can't see that. Since the election last Tuesday, in which Obama won by a massive landslide – 332 electoral votes to Romney's 206 – media watchers have recorded millions of hate posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. There are people who are absolutely seething with hatred. I have tried to have conversations with a few people who hate Obama and, when I ask them why, they either defend their right to hate him or they come up with cockamamie reasons that have no basis in fact. I said to one woman, “Don't you at least think he is a good man who is a loving husband and father?” She responded, “That's all an act. He's just putting on a show for the camera.”

Where does that kind of hatred come from?

I'm sick of politics. This election season just wore me out and I want to get back to writing and sewing and knitting and my life. But, as a writer, I never cease to be fascinated by human behavior. I know enough about psychology to know that hatred stems from fear and there is so much fear all around us these days. But why?

Over and over I have heard that there is a certain personality type that would rather go through life clinging to their beliefs, even when those beliefs have proven to be dead wrong, than change their mind. These are people who think changing their mind is a sign of weakness or something I don't understand. In their psyche they are missing something that people like Senator McCain and Governor Christie have. I loved it when Christie said, “I am a Republican, he is a Democrat and we are both adults. This is how adults act.” Bravo to him.

I was listening to Dr. Michael Eric Dyson the other night (I know I've said this before but I could fall in love with him) and he said that a “bigot makes an idol of their commitments and worships at the altar of their ideas.” That is a nearly perfect description. When anyone idolizes their ideas over truth and fact they are doomed to finding ways to stubbornly and childishly reinforce their position even to the point of being ridiculous and making fools of themselves. And the more ardent they become in that defense, the more they spew intolerance, and divisiveness, and hate. Common decency takes a beating. Truth takes a beating. The divide deepens.

So we are facing another four years of ranting and raving and whining and complaining and carrying on by people who can't find the integrity of Senator McCain and say, “We have deep disagreements but he's a decent American.” How sad is that?


  1. Well said! I share your feelings on this issue. When Senator Ted Kennedy died my very first thought was and civil discourse has died with him. I am so tired of being accused of not loving my country as much as those who dislike OUR President. My granddaughters have been brought to tears by fellow schoolmates because they are proud to be Obama supporters. They have lost friends and have been bullied but they all stand proud.
    My husband worked for the UN in Kosovo training police officers and after his last tour he remarked One country's hero is another country's terrorist.

  2. If you want to fix the wretched political climate then start with the media. They have poisoned the minds and hearts and health of all good people who care. Love wins! Power and greed lose...eventually.

  3. I think there is a huge difference between blind hatred (always destructive) and honest disagreement. I admire the president's intelligence, his charm, his loving attitude toward his family but I disagree with some of his policies. What I have found difficult to accept in this election cycle is the unwillingness of both sides to allow for honest disagreement. If you don't 100% adore their candidate, you are considered crazy, stupid, misguided or worse. I am mystified by the intolerance to a differing point of view and a certainty that with their help you will instantly convert to their way of thinking.

    I agree with Kathleen that the two examples she gave above were welcome examples of civility.

  4. Thank you all for your comments. We live in perilous times and I agree that the media is irresponsible on both ends of the spectrum. Last night I watched a documentary called "Patriocracy" that I highly recommend. It talks a lot about the irresponsible media. Excellent film.


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