Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Proposed Solution to the Current Political Climate.

In light of recent events, specifically the shooting in Tucson, AZ, there has been a lot of talk about the negative and sometimes violent speech in politics. Although, no link has been found between political rhetoric and the shooting in AZ, this does serve as an opportunity for introspection and discussion. There are those who claim that political rhetoric is too vitriolic and angry and it has the potential to cause violence while others claim the exact opposite that angry speech gives people an outlet without restoring to violent behavior. While my personal opinions fall more toward the later than the former, I do not believe that governmental intervention is the solution.

The solution to the virulent political rhetoric is not a new one. In fact, it is a solution that many of us learned in Kindergarten and some of us in Sunday School. The solution to this problem is obedience to the Golden Rule, "Do to others as you would have them do to you." While this particular quotation comes from Luke 6:31 this maxim is not unique to Christianity. Most ancient and modern religions and ethical standards include some form of the Golden Rule. Its form is childlike in its simplicity, treat others like you want to be treated, and yet its mastery can take a lifetime if at all. This moral was one of the basic ideas of Jesus' teaching. It requires humility, respect, love, and sacrifice for others above self. Use of the Golden Rule is not as satisfying as firing back and matching insult for insult. It requires discipline, something that few of us have.

No one wants to be called evil. No one wants to be referred to as the enemy of their country. No one wants to receive death threats or have their children threatened. So why do we do these things to those we disagree with? There are conservatives and liberals alike who love their country and want to see the United States improve. This is not a call for an end to criticism. Criticism can be positive and sometimes while criticism can seem harsh it is not without purpose. However, we can criticize without making false accusations. We can complain without cursing. We can treat those we disagree with like we want to be treated.

Will this ever happen? Not likely. The 24/7 news channels, blogs, and talk show hosts know that controversy, anger, and venomous speech equal ratings and ratings equal cash. In politics, unfortunately, the nice guy finishes last. This is an indictment of the American culture as a whole. We love a good fight even when the results can be tragic.

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