Godless Liberal

The other day I was called a “Godless Liberal”, not for the first time, during a political debate; I pondered this for a few minutes before I responded. I understood my opponent was angry with me, furious if truth were told. If we had been speaking face-to-face, I suspect the ‘Godless Liberal’ would have been accompanied with finger pointing and looked something like this:Anger

GODLESS LIBERAL

Before I go on, by the way my response was “Yes, but you will never understand the nuance.”

Perhaps the words I used were too big, maybe he didn’t understand them. Whatever the case was, the discussion went downhill from there, the content of his argument went from senseless fiction regarding the state of police violence to comments regarding my gender and my relationship to canines (Fucking Bitch was one of the least offensive but most frequently used).

The entire exchange got me thinking about the state of our national conversation, not from a political standpoint, not from what we see in media but, from how we speak to one another. It got me thinking; outside the usually polite boundaries we maintain in professional settings, we have none anywhere else. We are perfectly comfortable with name-calling, crossing any previously established boundary to disparage our opponent and we have not the least amount of shame in our behavior. What made this complete faceless stranger feel comfortable denigrating me in the most sexist terms?

Just to keep this all in perspective, he continued to pound me and everyone else with his moral superiority based on his Christianity, which apparently also magically infused him with intellectual superiority as well. I was frankly astounded.

Right-wing-Christian-hall-of-shame

Of course we only have this group of truly wonderful examples to compare him with.

 

That said and his point made, he viewed me as ‘outside’ and unworthy of anything approaching civil discourse. I did not surmise this, he told me he was under no obligation to treat me with respect as I was a ‘non-believer’ and bound for Hell.

Morals, Ethics, Principles, Values, Scruples, Integrity

Do these words have real meanings anymore? Can we say with certainty all societies have something akin to moral structures members willingly agree with and abide by? When my little friend called me a Godless Liberal, what did he really mean? Did he fully understand or was he just parroting mindlessly what he heard from others. Was this his only answer when he was no longer able to debate the issue at hand?

The question of Godliness and Godlessness, religious affiliation, worship both what and how, whether we recognize them or not, have been taking center stage in our public life for decades now. Though we are enjoined from doing so by our laws, even by our Constitution and by implication by our Bill of Rights, we judge each other by a set of Principles. Whether we subscribe to a ‘religion’ or not, we nonetheless subscribe to a common set of Principles, though some may be more porous, more flexible within the context of our day-to-day lives.

I have been thinking about this all week. This is what I have ultimately come up with, tell me what you think, am I right or wrong?

Morals: Primarily derived from religious thinking, all societies have basic frameworks that seem to be consistent though some are more deranged than others in their application of the rules.

  • Don’t be dishonest (Lie, Cheat, Steal)
  • Don’t be promiscuous and be faithful in your marriage (don’t covet either)
  • Don’t murder (killing might be okay though for the right reason)
  • Be compassionate to those weaker than yourself (feed the hungry, care for the sick and aged)

Ethics: Primarily defined for businesses to operate in the marketplace, organizations establish these to clarify the rules and ensure everyone knows them. Personally, I think in many cases Business Ethics are the organizations smoke screen but that is just me. I have seen these few from past employers they have rarely been adhered to.

  • Don’t pay bribes (Influence peddling)
  • Respect for individuals (Civil and Human Rights)
  • Respect for local culture
  • Respect for environment
  • Deliver profit to shareholders

Principles, Values, Scruples & Integrity: I have combined these because they are all personal in my mind. We develop personal and interpersonal relationships within society and with individuals, how we interact is based on our own evolution. Despite what some would have us believe we are not born Principled or with Integrity. When we come into the world, we are nothing more than empty vessels waiting to be filled.

I essentially filtered the 10 Commandments down to three (similar to George Carlin) and then added one of my own. Most religions agree with these as foundational notwithstanding the simpler language I used. I find myself in a quandary as I consider the issue of Morals, Ethics, Principles, Values, Scruples and Integrity –

OpEdStarting at the reading of my four Commandments, I walk the walk every day. Thus, I have Morals.

If I read my Ethics, as a businessperson who has worked in a variety of roles for Fortune 100 companies and as an Independent Business Owner, I walk the walk and talk the talk. In fact, I have been in trouble for doing so in the past. With this answer in mind, I am also a person of Ethics.

Continuing with my reading through the last group of definitions, I know my answers and believe I am a person of Integrity, a Principled person.

Godless, perhaps if I apply the definition as society does it this is true; I am not religious only spiritual. I do not subscribe to any religion created by man to control society, engineer preferred outcomes or oppress entire segments of society by gender, class or in some cases race. In fact I don’t just not subscribe, I reject.

Liberal, indeed I have been an agitator, a protestor and at times an ‘in your face’ type of Godless Liberal. I am now and have been since I was old enough to understand the difference a Progressive Left of Center Liberal.

Being a Godless Liberal wasn’t an illegal or immoral political stance last I heard, in fact some of the greatest men and women of history were staunch Liberals, including our own Founding Fathers. It seems we have lost our way. Stoning, burning at the stake, dunking have all been outlawed in the US of A for many years now; with Godless Liberal and public Slut Walking making a comeback, I have to wonder what is next?

Civility Lost

‘My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style’. Dr. Maya Angelo

Have you noticed our language seems to be getting uglier? Is this just me, am just getting more sensitive in my advanced age. It seems within all the mediums of communications we regularly use, our social interactions, especially where we enjoy anonymity our language and the way in which we speak to one another has a greater level of toxicity than ever before.

wizards6__span

Wizards, a lesson in toxic behavior

The greater  the anonymity the more toxic the language, right from the start. Where once we had at least the veneer of civility, now we are all in with the ugly; cannonballing into the pond, name-calling and nastiness, no regard for the human on the other side of the screen. It is damned near a contest to determine who can be the most offensive within a single exchange, who can pull the bully mantle across their shoulders and strut their obnoxious faster.

I have to ask, what got us to this point? How did we fall so far in our ability to communicate? Did we simply decided to shed our entire veneer of civility and pick up where we left off in grade school? Many of us shake our heads in dismay at the bullying in public schools across the nation; we are concerned our children are damaged by the name-calling and violence in the halls and playgrounds. We should be concerned, but let me ask you; just where in the hell do you think they learn this crappy behavior? Our children don’t pull this out of the air; they do not learn it from television, video games or on the radio! No, they learn it from you and I, they watch us acting like ill-mannered five-year-olds and think, what is good for my father / mother is good enough for me.

Off they go, to pull the hair, trip the nerd or otherwise make life miserable for someone weaker or different from them.

Let us take a quick look at some of the more polite terms we call each other in some of the political discussions I have been in recently, shall we?

  • Rightard
  • Righthug
  • Teatard or Teatarded
  • Repulicant
  • Racist
  • Libtard
  • Dumocrat
  • Environ-mentalist
  • Libturd
  • Libtroll
  • Femnazi
  • Baby killer
  • Race Baiter

Those are just a few after a quick glance through my own page. Nice right?

Don’t misunderstand, I am passionate about the things I believe in and even enjoy a good debate. I find many of the positions of the other side abhorrent, even morally reprehensible. I find many of the people who support them to be equally offensive, their words are a sometime deafening clamor to me.  Despite my personal feelings though, I find the name calling even more offensive than the positional differences. I would rather have a civil debate, one based on facts and even our personal historical context than simply this constant nastiness.

As an example, this is a part of a conversation I had some time back. The context of the conversation was whether the portrayal of the current president (Obama) as a Chimpanzee is the same as the portrayal of the previous president (Bush) as a Chimpanzee. My position was it is not the same because of the historical context of the portrayals. I have had this conversation previously with the person who started the conversation (my brother), on another thread. In this thread, another person jumped in, for context I have frequently bowed out of conversations with him because of the toxicity of his style. He is my nephew though I have never met him, he is in his twenties; both he and my brother are professed Conservatives with a very real hatred of the current President and all things “Liberal”. Despite my brother and my positional differences, we can usually carry on a civil discussion without name-calling. My nephew is not my brother’s son. These are my biological family members who I was not raised with, thus the reason I do not know all of them.

fb conversation

When I tell my nephew to get historical context I do not simply mean about me but also to learn the history of this nation. He is not educated. He is also, as noted, mean spirited and nasty in his communications. Feel free to tell me I was ugly as well, I may have been.

I find myself more often these days, simply bowing out. I no longer have the emotional wherewithal to support these conversations, to defend positions when I am attacked on a personal level. There was a time when I could see past the personal attacks, rhetoric and focus, now I simply say thank you and good-bye.

What is wrong with us?

I ask this of all of us, no matter what side of the fence we sit on what is wrong with us. What part of our compassion, empathy and civility did we drop off at the local Waste Station in the past ten years? I know there have always been issues that fired up our passions, now though it seems just the mention of what side of the very deep chasm you reside on is enough to get those guns roaring.  Nothing it seems can tap down this roar; nothing can extinguish the fires burning across this land setting families against each other in all out battles as if they didn’t share blood, friends in battles of witticism which in truth are nothing more than school yard taunts.

I tell you, I weep for us all. I weep for the lost art of communication, civility and even common courtesy. I weep for us all.

My House

200This is a celebration of sorts, two hundred blog posts. This is it #200, maybe a little cheating a couple of re-blogs not many so this is it 200. What do I want to do?

Balloons? Confetti? Pop a cork on some cheap champagne?

Nah, none of that (maybe a little), in fact I have a different agenda in mind entirely. I want to talk about manners, courtesy and the rules of engagement within the context of the blogosphere. I want to talk about rude people, crude people, self-entitled people; those who believe they don’t have to watch their mouths, wipe their feet or mind their manners in your house. People who don’t understand the concept that your blog is in truth your house, somewhere you get to make the rules, where you are under no obligation to post their comments or allow their comments to remain caused me some surprise.

The idea people would stalk a blog just waiting for the opportunity to pounce was a new one on me. The first time it happened, honestly I thought it was an anomaly just one of those things brought on by an obnoxious discussion on a different blog. I figured, well this is simply the price I pay for allowing myself to be drawn into a ridiculous debate with a person who is of no consequence to me, the price? What I thought was one-time visit and another ridiculous discussion.

myhouse

Then came the most recent muddle, I was drawn into the discussion again. I considered that I was snared by this very same person because despite previous experience I refused to believe the evidence of my own eyes and experience; that is, I gave this person the benefit of the doubt. I considered that perhaps it was culture; I discarded this idea after discussion with several people from the same part of the world. The fact is, we all speak English and while we might speak the language differently; manners, civility and simple common courtesy are the same the world over.

DSC_3307klein1Then I realized, no this person is simply one of those people who believe they are entitled to pollute, believe they are entitled to sprinkle their bad attitude, pepper their myopic worldviews and scattershot their self-righteousness wherever they please. What gave me a clue? Well, the last exchange was personal, not only was it personal it was an attack it was one that attacked me based on my history, suggested I wrote disingenuously, further suggested that while it was ‘sad’ I was shot ‘or’ raped I should just ‘get over it’ and stop writing about it non-stop since everyone had bad things in their lives to deal with but didn’t let it make them bitter.

I deleted this post on my site. This poster suggested any response I made would be to my other readers, those who agreed with me of which they were not one since they would not be reading it.

This exchange got me thinking. I considered responses but mostly I considered why anyone would behave this way. It isn’t the first time I have seen this behavior, only the first time in what is usually a more courteous, calmer environment. This type of behavior I would normally have assigned to the hit and run of public sites such as Facebook or some of the unmoderated chat rooms.

With that being said, this is my response to these exchanges.

This is my house. You are not required to agree with everything I say; in fact, I welcome debate on those subjects where it is normal to debate. My rules apply though and they are simple.

  1. Be courteous in your response, whether that response is to others or me.
  2. Never assume I won’t respond to you simply because you are responding to another poster.
  3. Stay on subject. Really, the post I write are generally about one thing stay there. If I wanted to talk about something else I would have written about something else.
  4. No name calling or personal attacks will be tolerated, ever.
  5. I will give you one warning, then I will put you in moderation till you clean up your act.

This really is my house. When I come to your house, I will always try to be courteous. I will wipe my feet at the door. I will smoke outside. I will put a coaster under my glass. I won’t curse (despite my ability and sometime propensity to do so). In turn, have a little respect and show some manners I know most of you have some broughtupsie.

In the future, I am going to try hard not to let people derail me, offend me or hurt my feelings in my own house. I will also not allow them to come into my house and offend you. I hope you will tell me if they do.

KickmFor those of you who have visited me in my house through 200 posts, thank you so much. I adore you, appreciate you and am glad you are here. Thank you for allowing me to use my 200th for a rant.

%d bloggers like this: