Sunday, November 02, 2008

Can we disagree without being disagreeable?

Have you noticed that there's an election coming up? And that there's an atmosphere of incivility around here? We've got a local measure, which I support but our mayor doesn't. It appears there is incivility on both sides of the issue; she doesn't like being called names, but I can't say I like it either.

We have in California a famous (or infamous) ballot measure, which all Thinking or Enlightened people oppose. Without question. Anybody who supports Proposition 8 is supposed to be a bigot and a reactionary, blah blah blah. But incivility has reached new heights; a friend sent me this account:
In the past week I did an experiment with my son to help him understand the American democratic process:

I heard from several friends that their "Yes on 8" lawn signs were destroyed or stolen. As an experiment, I picked up a "Yes on 8" sign and put it on my lawn last Sunday. Some of my neighbors have "No on 8" signs in their yards.

I asked my son to measure how long this "Yes on 8" sign would be tolerated.

The result is "less than 4 days". I put out the sign on Sunday afternoon. It disappeared between 3-7PM on Thursday.

Why do I say "less than 4 days"? I was warned that damage to the signs happened late at night. Hence, I carefully took the sign indoors after 7PM every night, then put it out again every morning at 7AM. I guess someone must have been by earlier, but couldn't find the sign after 7PM -- so they finally decided to strike before I got home at 7PM. I wasn't sure when their first attempt was. That's how long their tolerance of different opinion really is.

Lessons my son learned:
  1. Just because there are several "No on 8" signs in the neighborhood, and only one "Yes on 8" in front of our house doesn't mean we are wrong -- just that somebody stole all the "Yes on 8" signs from other people's property to create that false impression. And now the last one in the neighborhood is also gone, but that doesn't mean nobody supports "Yes on 8".
  2. While the main reason to support "No on 8" is "equality for all", they don't really respect others' rights to express their opinion.

    In other words: Don't just listen to what the slogan says; the slogan is always politically correct. But watch the real agenda behind the slogan -- they want their way no matter what it takes.
This kind of thing really makes me mad. This is supposed to be the United States!

Apparently conservative republicans aren't the only ones who use "dirty tricks"; Politically Correct liberals sometimes use 'em too.

Some of us can

At a party the other day, a friend shared her views on Proposition 8. I said, "I've heard this argument, but I'm not convinced." Then I mumbled something about how it's a complicated issue. She didn't agree.

"The issue is very simple, really, but it's an emotional issue." That statement I could agree with.

As we parted, she looked at me and said, "I'm not going to convince you, am I?"

I smiled and shook my head. "I'll still be your friend," she promised. And I'll be hers, too. We've started an e-mail conversation on the topic.

Not that this is the most important thing in the world to talk about, but I think we're in agreement that coal miners' lives are more important than coal companies' profits, that the innocent shouldn't be persecuted and criminals should be punished. But this is an issue where we differ, so we'll talk. And I'll predict right here that it's going to be more about how we each think and feel than about the issue itself. Here's one article illustrating the complexity of what we call moral reasoning.

And does this help?

For those who follow Jesus, it's important to remember that the election results are not the be-all and end-all of our lives. My friend Jan sent me a link to this article, which says it much more clearly than I could.

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