I don't talk too much around here about what I believe. I think I've maybe explained why. It's not that I'm afraid to discuss the hard questions. I love to discuss the hard questions. It's because I have very limited tolerance for those who want to rant and rave instead of discuss.
I think, really, we'd all be a little better off if we didn't avoid politics and religion so much. If we would all just shut up and listen to each other a little more. We worry too much (I think) about offending each other. Maybe we could just, you know, talk nicely. Agree to disagree. And stuff.
That said, I have been a little amazed over the last few months by the way people "talk" about politics and religion online. It started, for me, with the Presidential election last fall. I'm not going to go into detail about my political beliefs right here right now, but I will say that this was my first election where I was on the side of a winner. It was pretty exciting for me.
And, okay, I made a slew of moving to Canada jokes among my very close friends during the last Bush election. But, this time, I was on Facebook, watching people post comment after comment about moving away, assassination, bloody coups, etc. At first, I thought I was amazed at the vitriol. The hatred seemed so out of proportion. I also thought that maybe I was being sensitive that someone was harshing my liberal buzz.
But, instead of easing since the election, it's gotten worse. And it's spread. I've seen people who normally post status updates about loving God and Christianity start posting updates about hating Muslims. I've seen those assassination jokes expand to no longer just cover the President, but Congressmen and even just liberal citizens.
I've seen "ads" portraying Obama as the joker from Batman, as Hitler and as various animals. I've seen racial slurs and hate speech. And then, when someone dares to disagree with one of those people, I've seen rage, absolute rage.
Now, I'm not talking about anonymity. I'm not talking about a world where kittenmitten662 and lovelybuddy16 are debating the pros and cons of health care through name calling. I'm talking about Facebook, a world where the names are real and your kid's pictures are linked forever to your comment saying how worthless you believe the lives of others to be, as long as those others are elected officials that don't agree with you.
These are also people that I know. People that I like. I am not one of those people who accepts every friend request I get. My friends are genuinely my friends, or at least acquaintances. These are good people. Kind people. People who would not walk up to you and spew this kind of vicious rhetoric.
Some people (like one college friend of mine who I really admire) wear their politics on their sleeve. They share their beliefs in a calm, rational and tolerant way and they don't back down, standing tall without feeling the need to lay anyone else low. But others, well, others are nasty. Hateful. Cruel. Violent.
What usually hurts my feelings are the liberal and democrat bashers, because, well, that's sort of where I live, but I'm not saying that my team never acts like jerks. It's universal.
And, frankly, I don't understand it. I don't understand why people think this kind of language is ever okay, but if it were anonymous, I would at least understand how people become drunk on that feeling and forget to act like people. But, knowing that everyone really knows who you are. Knowing that you are potentially hurting, really hurting those you love and still making those
choices... It's amazing.
Do you know, for sure, that your kid's teacher shares your political beliefs. Or that your best friend from elementary school isn't going to take your bashing personally. I doubt it. I doubt anyone does.
And this, this is why we can't talk about religion and politics. Because we can't be trusted to remain civilized. And that is truly sad.