I believe that civil discourse requires the respect of all participants. It shouldn’t diminish one’s moral worth or create hostility. It requires modesty and an appreciation for one another’s experiences.
My idea of a good life may be contrary to yours. As a Christian, I believe that Christianity helps form a good life. I also believe that having children and raising them to become responsible adults is valuable to our society. I want to control the proliferation of guns in our country. I want to see the use of renewable energy become commonplace. And I want all life to be respected; not just unborn babies. You may be Hindu or Buddhist or Jewish or Muslim and believe that helps form a good life. You may think that marriage should only be between heterosexual couples. You may doubt the existence of Global Warming and be a card-carrying member of the NRA. Can we live in harmony? Can we agree to disagree?
I believe the answer is yes! As a citizen I must not talk about, nor insist, on my concept of the good life in public discourse or political debate. My idea of a good life is a private matter and forcing my views of what constitutes a good life assumes that others’ ideas are inferior to mine.
There is a huge chasm between what is right for me and what is just for society.
I’ve been holding my tongue during this presidential election. I refuse to argue with neighbors, friends and family. I walk away from the water cooler conversations at the office. I am saddened that our country has become so divided and the candidates in turn are so divisive. Perhaps it’s easier just to throw insults and make false accusations than to deal with the real challenges our nation and world face today. We are all keenly aware of how harmful bullying is on the playground and in the classroom. Employers and educators have adopted zero-tolerance policies concerning sexual harassment and verbal abuse. Should we expect less from our political candidates? The future leaders of our nation?
Consider the words of Saint Theresa of Kolkata : “Peace begins with a smile.”
I’ll just smile and keep my mouth shut and vote on November 8th.