Saturday, January 15, 2011

Debate has become hate. This is What Got To Me Today.

We have a saying in our house about using the word "hate".  Since both our children were very young, my husband and I have always encourged them to refrain from using the word, even if used in a sentence as harmless as "I hate when my cereal gets soggy!"  So whenever the word slips out, someone will voice the reminder, as if an auto-responder, "We don't like 'hate'."  Said enough over time, to this day you would be hard pressed to hear a member of our family use the word, or at least pause before they do.

We don't like "hate".  More today than ever, more last Saturday than ever, I don't like "hate".  I've not written about the tragedy in Tucson until today because I have been so angry, so hurt, so concerned for the future of our political process, that I feared I would spew something venomous, or yes...hateful.  So I waited.

Today however, I'm not really going to talk about the shooting.  There are plenty of media sources still covering the tragedy, as they should.  The victims, their families and all who are affected deserve as much support and justice as we can muster up as a country.  I, like many, am still tuned in to the coverage, both horrified by the investigation and inspired by the reaction. What I want to talk about today, however, is how much these kinds of atrocities are considered when one chooses whether or not to go into public service.

I think about the people I know personally who are serving in office.  I think about my political "rock stars" who I dream of knowing one day.  I think about all of the important things that get discussed and accomplished because there are people who dedicate themselves to public service and public office.  I am so appreciative of these people, whether at a local level within my City, or in Washington D.C. at national and international levels.  I know we need these people.  Which brings me to my next thought.

Debate has become hate.  Peaceful rallies have become places to fear the worst.  Somewhere there is a young, enthusiastic guy or gal, just itching to get involved in the political process who is taking pause because he/she wonders if it will be a safe occupation for his/herself and family.  Opposing ideas have become vicious roadblocks and attacks instead of a means to find a way through to a solution. Broken windows or painted graffiti at a candidate's headquarters are common during election season. Common. Death threats are expected for someone with a passionate voice.  Expected.

People who know me know I am extremely passionate about my political views.  There are definitely people I do not like, whose policies I find ridiculous, who dumbfound me by things they say and do. All of us have our opinions and have the right to voice them.  We should not, however, have the right to intimidate, threaten, fearmonger or cause harm to others because of our opinions. Opposing opinions should not be so hateful that they give pause to those wishing to serve. It seems ridiculous to even have to say this outloud, or put in print.  Isn't this common sense? Treat thy neighbor?  The golden rule?  What is taught in kindergarten?

Will the tragedy in Arizona help tone things down? I don't know.  If it does, then isn't it a shame it took such a horrific action to make it happen?  Can't we all just adopt the phrase my kids say and know by heart? 

"We don't like 'hate'."

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