When I was in first and second grades my teacher, Mrs. Hibbard, helped establish a wonderful foundation for the love of learning. One year, for example, we built a list from encyclopedias and other little kid references for each day of the month of February. We all know February 2 is Groundhog Day but did you know that February 1 is Victor Hugo’s birthday? Imagine knowing at age 7 who he was and what he did!
She had a bowl of those tiny hearts with sayings on them that are sold around Valentine’s Day. They were a treat, a carrot so to speak, for achieving something good. Most typically they were for behavior not scholastic performance, so achievable to everyone equally. With those small bits of sugar she taught us self control.
A little less than a decade later my mom often criticized the hippie concept of “do your own thing” as a problem. I guess, Mom, you may have hit part of the reason we’re so messed up now on that philosophical rebellion against the establishment. If only we were satisfied to stay in the proscribed roles, our society would have been “great” all these years. And yet, there was and continues to be good reason to make noise about some of what the people in power have foisted on us.
To put it mildly, this movement to break through conventional gender roles, color barriers and more upset the Establishment. Those of us who are old enough to remember the late 60s and early 70s also remember how divided this nation was. There were those who supported the way of life that had been good enough for generations and the fact that those conventional mores restricted equal protection and application of the law was not recognized by people who perhaps felt threatened by others being given “equality”. And the fight continues.
As we’ve moved away from back fence discussions with neighbors we know to the faceless aspect of Facebook, these discussions often become rude and completely worthless as an exchange of concepts. Part of the population never quite understood that “political correctness” just meant being polite to all people and most of the population never learned how to hold a persuasive argument. If a person has no way to frame their position like a salesman, gently showing the benefit to the “prospect”, that person has no recourse but to say the same thing again and again and then, in frustration, turn to denigration.
I have a good number of friends that I have made in places I have lived. While we never really talked about politics until recently, I had commonalities with them that nurtured our friendship. Some of them have disowned me; others continue to today and are able to present their viewpoints and respond to mine. What’s the difference in broad terms between these two groups of people? Generally, it is their own self confidence in the life choices they have made and their self control in the way they live and speak.
I have other friends on Facebook, people I have never met face to face. They became friends because of some commonality. The farm-to-table movement attracts people who are concerned about how the food we eat affects our health, and politically, we are all over the spectrum. It amuses me that one of the people who “likes” almost every food warning I post on Facebook is unable to write out her own feelings on the political issues that shake us, and relies on some of her Facebook friends to engage with me.
It doesn’t bother me to have discussions with people who hold opinions different from mine. How can we ever find our commonalities and perhaps solutions to these issues without sharing our concerns?
But there are many people who degrade rapidly or eventually. It’s as if they just can’t handle the points I raise. Perhaps they start to agree but their longer held position pulls them back and scared a bit, they lash out. Perhaps they just can’t imagine that anyone who holds a different viewpoint is worth their time, a classic example of cognitive dissonance.
It doesn’t matter if they are smart or average. It doesn’t seem to matter what their financial status is. It DOES seem to reflect on their love learning or lack thereof.
And I want to stress here that this kind of childish behavior is displayed by people throughout the political spectrum, not just one side or the other.
So, if you, like me, wants to see us avoid another civil war, I urge you to get a handle on your self control.