Tweets, blogs, personal Facebook pages, websites, commentaries… As individuals we want to stand out and be heard and acknowledged, and have an impact on our world and other people.
Unfortunately, angry opinion and rhetoric seem to be gaining ground online. Is it just me, or is common ground sinking, a la “2012“? It seems heated debate beats open-minded dialogue, almost everywhere you look. As Andrew Keen observed last year, one could conclude that many of us “have forgotten how to listen, how to read, (and) how to watch,” in our zeal to sell our own messages and point of view.
The recent shootings in Arizona may be the logical consequence of an increasingly polarized society. It’s a sobering reminder that demonizing those who disagree with your view, can lead to tragedy. As the local Arizona sheriff interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor points out, vitriol may be legal, free speech, “but it may not be without consequences.”
The journey back to a civil public dialogue starts with a single step. Today you and I can start a movement to choose civility.
We can demand civility from others who seek or have our support.
We can choose to vigorously champion our own views while seeking to understand and respect others’ views.
We can choose to seek common ground and collaborative solutions.
We can reject the premise that every opponent is an enemy to be destroyed. In a recent broadcast, “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer pointed out that people can in fact, be opponents without being enemies.
We have the power. The Internet gives everyone a voice. It’s our choice to keep our voices civil, and to give others a measure of respect.