“I’ll light the fire. You put the flowers in the vase that you brought today. Staring at the fire for hours and hours while I listen to you…Our house is a very, very, very fine house…” From 1970, “Our House”. Recorded by: Crosby, Stills & Nash. Composed by: Graham Nash
A very talented friend of mine, going back to my high school days, recently pitched the idea of having dinner together. I loved the gesture. I even can say I had a spark of excitement run through my heart when he suggested a casual dining get-together. But, the spark was quickly quenched. It’s not like we had never been in a casual setting before. Indeed, about three years ago we had a great time with a handful of school chums, from our teenage years, along with some sour cream potato skin appetizers. We discussed old times, careers and swapped stories concerning our families. Before we knew it, three hours scurried by. We took some pics together, promised to do it again soon and went our separate ways. However, THAT was before the presidential election. Keep reading and bear with me.
My old friend is one who I have admired for over forty years now. His talent in the acting, producing and directing arena is well-known. I learned so much from watching his stage work, so much so, I utilized his methods during my theater years.
Enter stage right: Donald Trump. BOOM! Suddenly, I was reminded of how opposite we were on the political and cultural spectrum. How do I know this? Because he has gone rabid on social media. You know the type. Posting anti-this and pro-that, some real news stories concerning the politics of the day, along with some false stories and spins of the same. Discouragingly, he often spouts off, in cyberspace, with degrading mockeries that often offend me on a personal level, yet not targeting me directly — even to the point of trashing anyone who may have opinions differing from his, like mine. Recently, he got as good as he gives from another online friend. This friend of his was pushing back, displaying a couple of profound foolish statements our mutual friend had made. My friend “Unfriended” him because he disagreed with the vigor my friend typed out daily on his page. It’s sad to watch his meltdown.
Unfortunately, since the election, he rarely posts anything about his life, his joys or his family. Frankly, I miss my old friend. He seems unable to put down the political hammer and just be his peaceful, cuddly self again. It’s as if something has taken over his kind spirit. It’s like he has been swept away, kidnapped by tons of foaming-at-the-mouth pundits. Regrettable isn’t close to the sadness I feel concerning this new person I once loved spending time with.
If you read my blog articles, then you know I don’t pitch a tent on politics, per se. Really, I would rather talk about the thickness of tire tread than debate political discourse on public forums. As for my old friend, I avoid the temptation of replying to his heated political rants.
We have seen an evolution in our culture over the past couple of years. My friend represents a huge part of the population in America who are dangerously close to sparking another civil war. I’m serious. Do you get that notion sometimes? Peaceful gatherings for protesting policy has now flipped into dog-fight style, in-your-face-screaming and shoving contests. We now have elected officials calling for a civil disobedience once viewed as beyond the laws of our society. There’s been a call for public stalking and harassment of others who speak opposing rhetorical discourse. Violent insults now vomit out of the foul mouths of ranters toward fellow Americans who hold rival thought. Profanities that are violent in nature, which I won’t type here, are dumped publicly on people of another political persuasion. These reckless mouths of venom, with sledge hammers for tongues, are applauded from those who live in their bubble, without a sense of shame or proper decency. It’s almost numbing to me now. Where have we seen that before?
A demand from a misguided elected official has gone out to the public. It involves finding people of other views in order to kick them and their families out of restaurants during a meal, shouting and cursing at shoppers in a store, or filling-up for gas at a gas station. For some, public spittle seems to be an acceptable form of shaming, disgracing and humiliation of others at the movies, street corners or even at the front doors of their homes. (There’s plenty of videos. Don’t just take my word for it.) This activity cuts gravely into what we are to give and share with our neighbors, to uphold the standard right of “…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We’ve seen this activity before in all its ugliness.
Honestly, what are we doing to our nation? Have we not learned from our past?
Someone might say, “Oh, Alan, It’s just words. No one is being harmed.” Really? Try asking Congressman, Steve Scalise about that. Try asking a dozen or so Republican lawmakers who were there at softball practice when the politically crazed gunman, purposefully targeting Republicans, opened fired, almost killing Rep. Scalise. Try getting an answer from William McKinley, John and Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. Try asking the many in our history who were illegally hanged by hooded mobs due to extreme hatred, or without due process or trial. (Oh, that’s right, you can’t ask. They are all dead.)
Name-calling has become the norm in the public square. The word, “Nazis” has been labelled on public officials and citizens just right of center. Think about that! If we really believed Nazis were taking over our country, wouldn’t we feel the patriotic duty to load some weapons and take a position? Calling anyone a Nazi who disagrees with another slant is way out of orbit. I have friends who lost multiple family members in the Holocaust. They know the genuine article. Trust me, today’s Neo, white supremacist versions are like nursing babies in comparison. The irony of falsely pointing out a family who has a different viewpoint than our own, calling them a despicable term like “Nazi” is indeed acting like…a Nazi! Ask anyone with dark skin, a Jew or a member of the gay community from WWII what it’s like to be labelled a “rodent” that should be purged from neighborhoods and exterminated. Again, most are dead now. This damaging spew must stop before the heat rises to uncontrollable levels. It will be too late after that dragon is released from his cage. We’ve seen where that takes us here and elsewhere.
“Stone is heavy and sand a burden,
but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.”. – Solomon – Proverbs 27:3 (NIV)
No, I’m not done. Why? Because words, spittle and stalking matters. What’s worse, it will matter much more to the next foolish John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald or John Hinckley Jr. It matters to the next wacko in a high-rise with an arsenal peering over an audience at a concert. Better yet, it will matter tremendously to the next political harassment victim, when violently reacting to public assaults from aggressors because they simply snap. What father or mother wouldn’t defend their young if attacked, shoved or spat upon from a group of screaming agitators at a mall? Some celebs (without much cerebellum) have called for assassinations, attacking the White House with explosives and kidnapping politician’s children. One well-known bright bag of gas celeb called for the kidnapping of the president’s 12-year-old son in order to promptly throw him in a cage with pedophiles. Another threw out the idea that the Trump family females should be raped. Holy piles! Mob mentality ignites easily when soaked in gasoline. The irresponsible blathering of those calling for this dishonorable aggression need to be careful what they are asking for. Wars have begun over far less.
Civility can, and is exercised, among those who are on opposite ends of the house in Washington. It’s a sure sign of a healthy republic. Why measure love with the caliper of a political obstacle course? Even in the House of Representatives, dear friends, from across the aisle, go to dinner together and play golf. Just because you are anti-this or pro-that, doesn’t mean you must alienate the ones you love with hateful shellacking. Taking deep breaths or counting to 10 or 20 really helps perspective. Recall that before a policy initiates, before an election, before a current event, you loved and accepted another person with another persuasion or doctrine of thought, for a reason. Remembering why you loved originally, should aid in bringing back focus away from the dizzy political news cycles, policies and videos of public humiliation and harassment. From a socialist, to Republican, we should be about peace and respect first, before we crucify each other. Self-absorbed loss of respect for others will always take a dark and dangerous exit ramp to where you really don’t want to be.
If you are one who will read this and say something like, “Yeah, but he said this first, or she said that first,” I just have one thought for you: visit a summer camp of middle schoolers and take your mirror. We are all responsible for our own words, actions and thoughts. Each of us. We should do what we can, as individuals, to bring peace and a cool, mature level-head.
Like a watchman at the gate of a fort, I wait for my friend’s dinner invitation. Visions of harassment and vile debate (and maybe chanting) being spewed across the dining table give me pause. Still, hope exists of seeing him again and sharing a peaceful meal. It’s only dinner, right?
A nice summer salad, grilled fajitas and good conversation would go well with a tank of fuel for the race.
“And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” – Jesus – Mark 3:25 (NKJV)