Monday Oct 25 2010
A Word to the Wise: The courteous discourse continues
By: Tom Rupp
The upcoming elections are less than a week away. Once again we encounter numerous instances of candidates and their supporters using empty labels and thoughtless accusations. The inconsiderate yelling makes it more impalpable. All in all, many behave in a manner that reveals a lack of manners. That is the unfortunate problem that such a fortunate system of government as ours produces — free speech opens the door to uncivil speech. Please consider this a humble attempt to respectfully add to the discourse. Our Constitution seems to be sufficiently generic so as to offer general principles that each generation has to flesh out as best they see fit. This is especially true in regards to the much quoted and possibly often misunderstood First Amendment. In more than 200 years of practice, we have yet to work out all of the kinks concerning specific application of the Constitution. Each generation brings forth a crop of people who profess to unmistakably know what the document means and how it applies to their time. Ours is no different. Therefore, we have some who see one angle of an issue and others who see another angle. They both (and all others) have the right to express and defend their views. The courts and elections slowly work out their deliberations. There will always be a Rush Limbaugh or a Bill Maher to belittle the other side. That is their job — to shock their audiences so people will pay more money to their sponsors so they can continue shocking. That is how the system works. It is the nature of the beast. Here are a few suggestions to keep things on a civil tone. Stop yelling. It accomplishes nothing. Stop thinking your way is the only right way. It is likely not so, or at least it may not be that simple. When you’re finished talking, listen to the response and keep your mouth shut. Respect others. Show respect, especially for those with whom you disagree. Can you imagine the refreshing breeze such a display of manners would cause? It can start here, now, with me, and with you. There, see? Already we have begun a revolution of civility. It will take unending work, but such kindness greases the wheels of democracy and makes for a smoother, more tolerable community. It is that plain and basic. Oh, that it were that easy. Tom Rupp is a Bible teacher at Capital Bible College. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.