Capable of civility
Just to let you know any ramblings occurring throughout this column are generally applied to me. Perhaps something may resonate with you and yours, but in no way are my written thoughts directed at one person.
I have been called every name in the book and sometimes by my own child. This particular child went through a stage of trying out all the words seemed like a good idea. It’s not something that has continued, but it was an interesting stage. I’m stating this to let you know after the first round, I realized I’m not fragile. The other thing I realized was if I didn’t want my child to talk a certain way, I needed to take a good look at myself first before placing the blame at the feet of a curse-lovin’ friend. It doesn’t mean I don’t have a broken record playing in my head when I find something I disagree with. I know all the words as well. I understand not everything needs to come out of my mouth or keyboard. I have a filter and I’m glad my children have developed one as well. (Again, our filters are faulty and a work in progress.)
This is not a political statement either. I don’t care which side of the aisle you reside in. I hear, see, and read shameful, derisive, and cruel posts from all walks of life. On one hand, people call out others for being too sensitive and the next statement is a rant about being called a name. This is not the time to go back to the playground bully mentality with the “dish it out, but can’t take it” analogy. Congratulations. You’re not fragile either. Skill doesn’t necessarily make you a good person. I tell my children all the time, it doesn’t matter who started it. It is always, how are we going to shape the ending? No one should have to “be taking” anything. We all have the capability to be civil. All the pessimism is exhausting. I’m not sure how this adverse trend can possibly change.
This isn’t about your right to free speech. I am not a lawyer, but I do believe I understand everyone’s First Amendment rights. I’ll leave it here, in case anyone needs a refresher. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Therefore the First Amendment protects 5 basic rights: religion, speech, press, peaceful assembly, and to petition the Government. So Im not here asking for your rights to be taken away. I’m asking why you would want to be known for negativity over positivity? Why would you want to be remembered as the person who just shouts or writes intolerant statements?
Listening isn’t agreement. If that were the case my children would be absolved of all housework. Listening also doesn’t make you weak. I believe it has the position to make you strong. Listening provides me with the position of discovery, which allows me to help where I am most needed.
In summation, I believe most people are good. I may sound naive but I believe most people recognize calling names doesn’t make anyone strong or powerful. We do not have to believe in the same things, but I hope more people are working toward civility and understanding rather than intolerance and fear.
On a side note, I’ve always joked with my kids that the house locks will change after they graduate from college. It was our way of nudging our baby birds out of the nest. It didn’t have to be a full launch, just a reminder for them to strive toward independence. We want the possibility of them living within our four walls as the backup plan, not the first option. Now through social distancing, I’m pretty sure my children will never want to spend another night in our house. I’m going to have to beg them to come home. Don’t worry. I stand at the ready to eat my words. I will most likely gargle them down with a cold glass of Prosecco. Well played, quarantine. Well played.