I generally don’t like to write outside the scope of this blog – or rather, the scope as I see it. I will not write about coal mining nor the effects of it on the environment, nor the value of these jobs to the local communities, especially those communities in Appalachia. I have my opinions, and frankly, they are none of your business.
What bothers me though, and it has all summer long, is the level of discourse in this Democracy of ours. We have seen signs of all kinds vilifying the President, his staff, and even his family. We have seen threats (‘We are unarmed…this time’ among other things), false accusations, and scare tactics used in protests of all kind this summer – but not this just this past summer, but for the last few years. Discourse and dialogue has become about debate, heated, nasty, disturbing debate attacking the character of the people on the opposing side of view.
Now, we can mentioned the Christian precepts against this, but you, my readers, know these all too well. What is beginning to bother me is the mainstreaming of the nastiness. Not just over one issue, but seemingly over all issues. The Tea Party style of protesting is carrying over to other debates as well, including strip mining and surface mining. This past week, in my hometown, there was an EPA hearing over the continuation of the stream-lined approval process for new surface mine permits.
Things got heated, as you can read.
The one thing though that bothered me was the vilification of a reporter. When one side starts to single out another person, a single individual, for attacks, or they center their protests around that singular person, then the anger and hate which is for the corporate group is singled upon the individual.
Is this the level of discourse in this country? Should we vilify individuals who disagree with us, even over the most important issues such as jobs – good paying jobs too?
Granted, there are individuals who do deserve to be protested against; my concern here is vilification.
Can the Church actually do something and step in to turn the tide of the rising level of hate and the sinking level of civility? Can we act as peacemakers without taking sides in such debates as the health care reform or environmental issues? Doesn’t this speak of the need to remain somewhat neutral on political issues? Can we do that? Is that our calling in this world, or actually attempt to make peace?
Regardless of what you think of people on the other side, should we vilify them? And if we do, doesn’t vilification have the chance to lead to something else? Something much more nastier than name calling? Something worse than honest discourse?
I do not publicly endorse Mr. Ward or the environmentalists, nor do I seek to publicly vilify anyone. My fear here, and I seem to see it more and more, is to not just disagree, but to attack, firing in all directions, latching onto one person, and driving people to emotional levels. The merits of a man or woman’s arguments should stand alone, without attacks on the person.
So, my question is, does the Church have a role to play is preventing society from going over the edge?