Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A Lesson in Incivility

It started out innocuously; a phone call from an out-of-town relative asking how I was and the usuals, what was new, etc. And as our conversations often do, it moved into politics. As usual, we disagreed. I am rather conservative and this relative is pretty liberal. Not quite a left wing-nut, but active enough to have worked arduously to elect Barack Obama 10 years ago. First we talked about the immigration problem. I was told we need immigrants and replied we had a system to address that need called 'legal immigration.' We ventured into the problem of the immigrant's children. I was lectured how inhumane Trump is and asked where the outrage was when Obama did the same thing years ago. The reply was a lame excuse that the pictures from the Obama era were children sent here without parents. Oh, I see. Only during Trump's Presidency did parents start arriving with their children. How convenient. The response was how poorly we were treating people seeking asylum. Of course, my reply that these people are being coached on what to say when they get here fell on deaf ears. And then the bazinga happened: I mentioned the Sarah Huckabee Sanders dining incident in Virginia and the line that divided us just got wider. I heard laughter, and that's when I lost it. I knew logical and civil debate was all but impossible, and I hung up.

I've ignored the phone calls (deleted the voice messages without listening to them) and emails. One email contained a veiled threat; that's how I perceived it anyway.

We were cut from the same cloth, but I'd have to say it was from opposite ends of the rag at this point. Not only do we disagree on politics, but we vehemently disagree. This relative gets news from such reliable sources as Morning Joe, Rachael Madcow and some liberal wingnut named O'Brien on the known fake-news liberal channels (which is most of them, by the way).

In mid-conversation before I hung up, I posed this scenario and asked what the proper response is:

It's April 1912 and you have booked a trans-Atlantic trip on a brand new ocean liner. You leave Southhampton, England bound for New York City. Everything seems normal and everybody is having a good time. The entertainment and meals are excellent. A couple of days goes by, and then you are awakened early in the morning by alarms. The boat is listing and it is obvious it is going to sink shortly. You make your way to the deck and are lucky enough to get a seat in one of the 20 lifeboats. Some hold 40, some hold 47 and most of them hold 65. You end up in one of the boats holding 65, but notice there are a couple of empty seats as the boat hits the water. The boat is oared away from the sinking ship and you notice many people jumping in the water to flee the sinking boat. You cry to the boatsman to oar over and pick some of them up, and he complies. You pick up two people and are now at full capacity. Still, there are many people in the water waving their arms and they are swimming towards you as they noticed you pulled some people in. You pick up another, and then another. You notice the boat is overloaded and getting lower in the water. You realize you cannot pick up any more people, but they are trying to climb into your boat anyway. Their hands are clinging over the edge.

What do you do?

There are two choices here. Either you can take your oars and hit the hands of the people trying to climb into your boat off the hull, or you can keep letting more in until the entire lifeboat sinks and all are lost.

So, what do you do? Come on, it's not pretty. Either answer can be described as inhumane. Do you save some or do you choose to lose everybody, including yourself?

I can predict one of the answers. Liberals will say it's not a fair analogy, which was the first response I heard. Ah, but it is. The US cannot keep on letting people in unchecked. We simply cannot hold everybody. Make a choice and live with it. Survival is a basic instinct.

But I digress. The title of this essay is about a lesson in incivility. The country is divided. I was stupid enough to think the left would come to their senses and work with the President. I was wrong. Watching Huckabee-Sanders not only get ejected from a restaurant but also get accosted and lectured while she and her dining party were walking across the street to another eatery educated me. I now know the era of civil debate is over. The dividing line just got wider, and it is the Democratic-Liberal left that moved it. Watching vermin like Maxine Waters throw gas on the fire only drives the point home.

So it's the left versus the right, and it's heating up. As I fondly tell my liberal relatives and friends, I notice they are very liberal with other people's money, but not so much with their own money. Some of them are misers and penny pinchers. One of them likes to put up anti-Trump memes on Facebook and when a meme criticizing Trump for his charity was posted, I asked how much this relative gave to charity ... which, of course, is -ZERO-. Hey, I admit I live a frugal life well below my means, but that's native to my conservatism. And I do give to carefully-selected charities, especially ones that I have personally witnessed do good works. Probably not often enough as I should, but giving is a personal choice. Ridiculing somebody else's level of giving when you don't give at all is, of course, hypocrisy and I was quick to point that out.

Oh, the lesson in incivility: I have decided to extend this lesson in incivility to my liberal relative for a while to impart the lesson that it comes in different shapes and forms, and that I can be just as easily offended as the other side can. I'm pretty intractable when it comes to educational discipline. When I think the lesson has been fully imparted, I'll probably ease up to what another relative lovingly calls a 'cordial distance.' And that's how it will go from there on.

About national politics: I'd like to think things will get better, but I'm not sure they will. Another Democrat will, sooner or later be elected to the White House. I smile thinking how just it would be to treat that person -EXACTLY-  the way the left has treated Trump, but then again I know it will just produce more gridlock and we will all suffer for it.

We're all in the lifeboats, if you can't figure it out already. Keep rowing. And let's not consider the possibility of sinking, even though we have to make some unsavory decisions to stay afloat.

Dear ABC Television:

To: Ms. Channing Dungey, somewhere in ABC TV Lala-land Dear Ms. Dungey: I see you canceled your highly-watched and successful TV remake ...