Sometimes when tempers flare and hurtful words are exchanged, what people need to hear are words of healing. However, this often makes things worse and makes me wonder if we are actually better off just killing everybody.
Whatever: Sometimes people spout nonsense that needs to be challenged. Other times, nonsense is only an unimportant distraction. I use the term “whatever” to let them know that I am not challenging it and that they may even be right, but that I have something more important to say that I think they will also be interested in. It is a way of avoiding unnecessary conflict. Another way the word is used is to indicate that one is not picky and is perfectly happy with whatever. I use it this way when I am asked which restaurant I want to visit. There are of course derogatory ways to use the word, such as implying that one will not listen to whatever the other is going to say, but this is less common. Once, two of my coworkers were in a conflict. In order to deescalate, one of my coworkers used the term the nice way, but my other coworker took it the mean way. There was no deescalating it after that.
As ready as I’ll ever be: Once a customer came through drive-through, but there seemed to be a little bit of confusion. I tried to coax them to order, but they didn’t seem to realize I was ready to take it. Conflict was brewing and I needed a way to ease their mind and make my intentions clear. Finally, they directly asked me if I was ready to take their order. I replied enthusiastically, “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be!” I meant that I was so ready (and happy to help them) that it was not possible for one to be more ready – not that I couldn’t be bothered to be any readier. I think they took it the second way.
What is your problem: Another coworker of mine told me about the time he worked at a call center. He helped with troubleshooting and customer service. He would answer the phone with “What seems to be the trouble today?” or “What’s bothering you that I can I help with?” One day, what came out of his mouth was “What is your problem?” It didn’t go over well.
Meaning of meaning: My parents once got into a fight over the meaning of my father’s words to her. My mother eventually realized her mistake and tried to explain what those words meant to her so my father would understand. By using the term “means to me” rather than simply “means,” she was allowing my father to be right. They were words of healing. He would not allow her to use the word “meaning,” claiming that the only meaning a word could have is the one in the dictionary. They continued to argue over the meaning of the word “meaning” for half an hour – far longer than the original argument.
All lives matter: There are those that need to be reminded sometimes that all lives matter. People find it easy to dismiss the needs of the homeless or of convicted felons, blaming them for all of their troubles. Others seem deaf to the troubles of immigrants (legal and illegal) or of the unborn. More recently, there have been blacks, angry about how they have been treated by law enforcement, that have tried to remind us that black lives matter too. Those sympathetic to the cause have offered words of healing, saying essentially, “Of course they do; all lives matter.” The response has been less than welcoming. Those trying to help have been pushed away. Instead of working towards a solution, we are now in a war of words over whether black lives matter or all lives matter, which is silly because all lives necessarily includes black lives. I’m really starting to get upset.
Choose life: There are those that are pro-choice even when the choice is to end life, and there are those that are pro-life even when life can only be saved by eliminating choice. It is a very emotionally-charged subject that needs words of healing more than any other. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could work together to save as many lives as possible without ending choice? Wouldn’t it be nice if people chose life? Whether it solves anything materially or not, isn’t it good for the sake of harmony and our well-being to propagate the slogan “choose life?” Pro-life individuals can promote it because as long as they cannot control the choice, they want to encourage others to willingly choose life. Pro-choice individuals can promote it because they want the pro-lifers off their backs so that they can retain choice for the rare, extreme circumstances that a life must be ended. It is a win-win for everybody. Unfortunately, there are those that find such a slogan offensive because it is clearly anti-choice, choice being meaningless if one is not using it to end life. I’ll remember that the next time I’m making a choice. Let’s see, chocolate, strawberry, or kill idiots?
Just a theory: Religion is almost by definition dogmatic, whereas science is supposed to be forever open to inquiry. For several decades now, science has become just as dogmatic as religion. The nutritionists turned against fat too quickly and recommended eating more servings of grains per day than anything else. Only now are they starting to change their minds. Global warming was pushed on us long before all the data were in. Those of differing opinions were ignored, laughed at, and had trouble getting funding. Biological evolution is often taught in such a way that makes it seem unquestionable. Once in a while it is important to remind people that it is a theory – a model that has so far made meaningful predictions but is ultimately unknowable. Creationists would rather discredit it completely, but the kinder ones have taken a moderate approach, reminding us that all scientific models (including creationism) are just theories. With the idea that we have already found an unquestionable truth rejected, we can then have a productive, civil debate on the comparative merits of the theories. These are also words of healing. Strangely, there are supposed scientists that reject the offer and claim evolution to be a fact. Either they don’t understand science, or they are lying in order to cause division and turmoil.
FOX bias: I was once talking with a self-described liberal. He made the claim that FOX News was biased to the point that they were nothing but a propaganda machine for the RNC. My experience had been that FOX was no worse than ABC or CNN. They all show bias sometimes, but still provide real news worth watching. On the other hand, MSNBC truly is not a news organization. It is a propaganda machine not worth watching except to understand what the millions of gullible sheep who watch it are babbling about. I wanted to understand how this liberal came to determine what was and wasn’t a reliable source, hoping to learn something myself as well as possibly introduce some critical thinking where this liberal needed it so that he could eventually reach his own conclusions using sound reasoning. I started by admitting that I had seen examples of bias on FOX, but added that the jury was still out on whether they were completely devoid of value. I moderated my position hoping we could meet in the center. The liberal responded that if the jury was still out for me, than I was completely hopeless and not worth talking to. I had opened my mind up to being shown how bad FOX really was and was ready to learn of possibly better sources. Instead of trying to pull me over to his way of thinking, the liberal shut me out ensuring that we would continue to be enemies. This same guy had told me previously I was some sort of right-wing extremist when I know that I am quite centrist – just ask my Republican friends.
Phil Robertson: Some people are downright mean to homosexuals. Others aren’t. When directly asked what he thought of the subject, Phil gave no opinion of his own but appealed to consensus and authority. He quoted the bible in a country that is over eighty percent Christian. He went further to say that it was God’s job to figure out what to do with them, while his job was simply to love. It was quite possibly the least controversial thing that has ever been said on the subject ever. They were words of healing. Did he win a medal? No, they tried to kick him off his own show. The backlash over his statements were worse than I’ve ever seen for statements others have made that are actually hurtful. Do homosexuals prefer to be insulted? Because if they keep acting the way they’ve been acting, people aren’t going to stop with insults.
When I try to tell people that I misunderstood them, they take it as insulting them that they were not more clear. When I try to tell people they misunderstood me, they take it as insulting them that they are not smart enough to understand the stuff I’m saying. I’m done arguing with you. Next time I will keep my mouth shut and pull out the acid and flamethrowers. Apparently it is the only language you understand. This especially goes for those that will suggest that I’m promoting violence by writing this post. I’m not the one promoting violence – you are! If you mind your own business and shut up you will be left alone. If you attempt to intimidate me, I will torture you in creative ways and leave your body in a public place where it cannot be easily removed, leaving people to scratch their heads trying to figure out how it got up there, where the other pieces are, and why it glows in the dark.
For a long time I haven’t felt up to writing a whole post, or even doing the research necessary to ensure the post is fully accurate and of high quality. I’ve also been distracted by life and my fiction writing. Honestly, much of the time I've been to angry to trust myself not to do more harm than good. It seems things have only been getting worse. I’m breaking my silence because of a new development in the political atmosphere.
It used to be that people could blame government policy for making things more expensive for everybody (i.e. taxes), or for creating the potential for individual injustice (i.e. the EPA unexpectedly preventing people from building on their own land), but when these things happened even those who supported such policies would recognize these examples of injustice as abuses and accept that exceptions could be made. People might advocate to make certain actions illegal (i.e. smoking in public parks), which would obviously injure anyone who gets caught doing them, but they would refrain from going after specific people themselves, leaving it up to the legal system. People might make accusations against politicians (i.e. of war crimes), but at least politicians should expect backlash for taking a public stand. What was rarer was the mob mentality in going after everyday people who innocently get caught up in the political waves.
Now people are actually getting hurt. A college professor opines that Muslims and Christians worship the same God, which is a semantics argument with no objective truth or falsehood, and the college fires her. Now I see thousands of people saying she deserves it. I hear that a county clerk in Kentucky who has harmed nobody is thrown in jail without trial simply for doing her job under Kentucky law. Now thousands of people say she deserved it and have spread lies about her. I hear that cops and blacks aren’t getting along. Both feel threatened by the other. Now a black restaurant manager can’t even make a joke to a policewoman without getting fired and a white cop can’t even defend his own life against an attacker who happens to be black without being accused of murder and getting death threats. Countless people on both sides spout the most hateful rhetoric I have ever heard, but the content of their comments makes it clear they have absolutely no idea what they’re ranting about! Hardly anyone takes the time to understand an issue before taking sides. This is entertaining (though also sad and frustrating) when debating abstract economic policy. It becomes scary when involving the fates of real people. Who’s next?
There is nothing to be done with those that won’t listen, but those that will might find value in my book, The Nutcase Across The Street. We will never make any permanent progress without compromise, and we can’t compromise without understanding the concerns of others. Often, there is more to an issue than we are aware. In The Nutcase Across The Street, I try to show this and that many of the current divisions are illusory. Read more.
I just recently discovered this interesting tidbit and decided to share. Enjoy.
It seems like everybody is picking on Obama for his remark during the third debate he made about the navy. Some point out that bayonets (and horses) are still used in our armed forces, while suggesting that Obama claimed they weren’t (he actually just claimed we used fewer). Others claim Obama was rude and condescending and that he suggested Romney was unaware things had changed since the days of chariots and spears, but I didn’t take his comments the same way.
Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say a lot of silly things for which they are criticized, but it is often missed that they have good reasons for saying things the way they do. Sometimes, statements are made in direct or indirect response to equally silly things that Democrats have said.
I recently heard a radio show host (a guest on another's show I have since forgotten) call pro-choice people “pro-abortion.” While this is true of a minority of those who call themselves pro-choice (those who would try to prevent women considering abortion from receiving pro-life information pamphlets or from requiring waiting periods or ultrasounds), I do not believe it is true of the majority. Many of those who call themselves pro-choice speak of their unease and concern that they might be ending a life, and many even admit that they would probably choose life themselves. Even after an email was sent to him by a listener, equating calling “pro-choice” “pro-abortion” with calling “pro-life” “anti-choice,” this radio host dug himself in deeper and continued his characterization, using an argument I admit I didn’t really understand.
The following are three open letters that I think are very important to get out. One is to Occupy Wall Street, one is to the Tea Parties, and the last is to the Coffee Parties. Please repost until it spreads through the internet. Repost individually, or with all three together, with or without commentary, with or without your website added at the end, or however you see fit. We are more alike than you think. Together we stand, divided we fall.
Civility and tolerance are common themes in this blog and this post is no different. While I speak out against the harsh rhetoric of pundits of all political stripes, I recognize that actions speak louder than words and so today I wish to write on a recent action by the Obama administration to force hiring institutions to cover the health care costs of their employees, including controversial procedures that many deem unhealthy or even immoral.
Does Mr. T promote incivility? An event several months ago got me thinking about what truly drives incivility. It’s not simply calling people names or shouting at them. It’s certainly not pointing out the flaws of your opponent in the context of a political campaign; this is expected. The problem has to do with thinking the worst of people.
This is the question many are still asking. Who are they? Who founded it? What are their greivances? What are their demands? Are they negotiable? And who do we negotiate with? The first step to understanding a group is to listen to what they say. What are they saying?
People complain that our leaders in Washington can’t seem to get along well enough to get much done, but the real problem is what their rhetoric does to the rest of us.
As of late, it appears that these two groups have somehow been divided, with the centrists joining the liberals and the libertarians joining the conservatives, but I have always seen them as two sides of the same coin.
I recently found a couple of links at the Coffee Party website you may find interesting. Why is politics so divisive? What drives it? How did we get here? One woman makes the case that it is the news media and lays out how it evolved over time.
Be sure to check out her other post on how "argument culture" hurts America.
I was perusing RealClearPolitics.com recently and came across Jimmy Hoffa's recent "declaration of war on Republicans." There are serious problems with his statement, but probably not the ones you think.
Some guy burned a Koran. Then there were riots. Many people (including Sean Hannity) blamed the book-burner for putting our troops in further harm by provoking Muslims. The question nobody seems to be asking is, who provoked this guy into doing the burning? Past rioters? If it makes sense to blame someone other than the rioters for rioting, doesn’t it make sense to blame someone other than the burner for burning?
Why? There are legal ways to do these kinds of sneaky political tricks. Why did they have to resort to breaking the law?
It is times like this that try men’s souls. Political strife is at an all time high. The government is out of control. Our representatives ignore us. Tea parties have swept the country, seething with antigovernment sentiment. Some people advocate armed insurrection. Others shoot children, and others fly planes into IRS offices.
Some nut named Jared shot twelve people including congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people went looking for someone to blame.
It has been asked why liberals are angrier than conservatives. I’m not sure if the premise of the question is completely true, but conservatives have been quick to offer up theories.
It is no mystery to those who know me that I dislike political labels. Now I find some people that actually like them.
Though I am not yet ready to whole-heartedly endorse them (I am uneasy about most campaign finance reform, which is one of their issues.), www.nolabels.org is still worth checking out. They are a non-partisan organization that proposes eliminating the use of partisan labels from political discourse.
I recently read the article Climate Heretic by Michael D. Lemonick in the November 2010 issue of Scientific American. The author profiled Judith Curry and told of what she’s been up to lately. Judith Curry heads the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology and is known for her work on hurricanes and arctic ice. Lately, she has been engaging both skeptics and believers in the global warming debate.
Hi, I'm Dan. I like chocolate, hiking, and politics.