What happened to the America of my youth?
I don’t normally engage in conversation about politics, not because I don’t care, but because I’m a recovering political addict. If I get just a little taste, I’m not sure I can stop again. I’m daring to go near it just this once because I think it’s important, and I think I have enough self-control not to be overtaken.
If I were just waking from a 30 year coma, I wouldn’t know what alternate universe I had awakened into. Thirty years ago, Republicans and Democrats all wanted the same things. We wanted strong families, good educations for our children, safety, and the liberty and freedom to pursue the American dream—whatever that looked like for us. When Democrats and Republicans argued, it wasn’t over the end result, it was about how to get to the agreed-upon end result—those things we all wanted.
I don’t know when that changed or why it changed, but it’s clear that it has changed.
Nowadays, when a person expresses his or her opinion about something (anything), a mob of people attack that person—often personally. When did we stop debating positions and approaches for positive change and reduce ourselves to attacking character as though those who disagree with us are evil monsters rather than decent human beings who see things differently than we do?
The only thing that personal attacks accomplish is to shut down good people who might have a meaningful perspective or promising approach to a problem.
Unfortunately, the political vitriol goes beyond verbal attack. The person who dares to share his or her opinion, often is relegated to the position of “outsider” in his or her social circles, overlooked for opportunities and promotions, and dismissed as “less than” by those who see themselves as more enlightened superiors.
Worse, people who already struggle with self-esteem issues, are far less likely to seek and receive help from people who they fear will judge them because of differing political views. This is the tragedy that results when people who have dedicated their lives to helping others (mental health professionals, social workers, teachers, pastors, etc.) divvy themselves up into political groups that engage in personal attacks against anyone who doesn’t walk in lock-step with their prescribed “group-think.” We must ask ourselves, "Do I want to help this person, or do I want to convert this person to my way of thinking."
Is there anyone who will join me in bringing civility back?
Rhonda Sciortino, author of Succeed Because of What You've Been Through, and many other books, including Kindness Quotient set to be released September 4, 2018, used the coping skills from an abusive childhood to create two successful businesses that specialized in insurance and risk management of child welfare organizations. Through her writing, speaking, and media appearances, she shares that everyone can succeed because of what they’ve been through. Rhonda is a National Spokesperson for Safe Families For Children, Chairperson of the Successful Survivors Foundation, and National Champion of the Love Is Action Community Initiative.