I’m tired of mean people.
From the president to the local pastor, our society seems to have decided to “take the gloves off” when it comes to expressing disagreement with someone’s life, ministry, service, opinion, political party, or behavior.
Just a few weeks ago I started following a blog about frugal living. (Under $1000 Per Month) Much to my surprise, one of the posts last week was the blogger’s announcement that she was considering quitting blogging because of vicious personal attacks in the comment section. This isn’t a blog about politics, religion, or sex. It’s a personal chronicle of one family’s attempts to live a frugal lifestyle. The comments ranged from slightly snippy to downright cruel and threatening. No one FORCED these folks to read her blog. They didn’t pay to read her posts, and she has no authority over them, yet they felt perfectly justified in launching a volley of verbal abuse her way. Why? Because they disagreed with something she said?
Then I read a post from Brandilyn Collins, whose suspense writing and Christian testimony I admire. She received a letter from a reader berating a book she and her daughter wrote together. Now, the individual could have stopped with, “I didn’t like this book,” (although why we need to tell a writer we disliked their book is a mystery to me, they already wrote it, published it, and can’t do anything about it), the person continued with a personal attack on Brandilyn’s faith, her parenting ability, and her Christian witness. Yikes!
My kids (who are stubbornly opinionated about everything) are frequently involved in heated political debates on Facebook with their cousins and their cousins’ friends. Is that bad? No.
We do still live in a free country, the last time I checked, and we still have the right to freedom of speech. But when an adult woman gets involved in said debate between teenagers and resorts to name-calling and personal attacks because she doesn’t like their political opinions, something’s wrong.
When someone thinks it’s acceptable to hang an effigy of the president in a building in Georgia, and the comments following the news story say things like “too bad it wasn’t the real thing,” and “the only way to solve this problem is with another civil war,” something is dreadfully wrong with our nation.
When I was little and threw a temper tantrum my mother would send me to my room with the admonition, “Don’t come out until you can be civil.”
To be “civil” means to be courteous and polite. It’s interesting that the words civilization and citizen are directly related to the word civil, and the word polite and political have the same roots. Courtesy is the act of being kind and considerate of another.
Can we express our disapproval of a situation, our disagreement with a position or opinion, in a civil manner? Or must we resort to name-calling, stick-throwing, Neanderthal methods of self-expression? Add to that the use of foul (and frequently misspelled) language and the picture of our culture today becomes one of a society of poorly educated, out-of-control, angry people who resort to abuse and manipulation and lies in order to prove that they are “right.”
A minister whose teaching I enjoy once said that if your highest calling in life is to attack other people, that’s a very low level of living indeed. Another minister said since the devil is referred to in Revelation as “the accuser of the brethren,” we ought to take care not to get lumped into the same category.
Let’s rise up to a higher standard than the one set by brawling toddlers and dog packs.
Let’s be civil to each other. We’re all old enough to know what that means.