For as long as I can remember, I have loved arguing. Not fighting, but arguing. Discussing differences of opinion, even in a heated fashion. Debate that challenged my opinions and beliefs. Exchanging facts and forecasting implications and consequences. Religion. Politics. Sexuality. No topic was off-limits.
But there was always one constant in these discussions: respect. Respect for differences, respect for opinions, and respect for the truth. Unfortunately, I don’t see that anymore. Instead, I see an unbelievable ignorance and callous disregard for the most basic of civilities.
What am I talking about, exactly? I am stunned by people I know – smart, intelligent, compassionate people – who demonstrate absolutely none of those qualities when talking about issues that divide the Right from the Left. Ask them about anything negative involving the President or the Republican Party, and they begin to parrot the most recent drivel they have heard – “Clinton did it… Liberals hate America… Family Values… blah, blah, blah.” Point out to them that none of that has anything to do with your specific question, and the rant begins again. It’s unbelievable to me.
More people believe anonymous, random emails than they do complex facts, because they are easier to understand. More than that, they confirm what people already believe. For example, an email was making the rounds about Cindy Sheehan, “exposing the truth… that she had long ago abandoned her son, divorced her husband, and started a new life without them, only to embrace the son again after his death in Iraq, strictly for political purposes.” Yep, that’s what the email said, and people couldn’t forward it fast enough. They disagree with her stand against the Iraq war, so obviously anything horrible about her must be true. Of course, a quick check of www.snopes.com revealed that the email was a complete lie. She and her husband never divorced, she never remarried, and she and her husband raised their son. No one cares about the truth, though. Do you think the people who emailed the lie sent a follow-up note to their friends and pen-pals, clearing up the lie? Not a chance.
I am many things, as we all are. Some of the words that describe me are former Active Duty Marine, gay man, husband, liberal, college graduate, homeowner, taxpayer, friend, son, a
nd optimist. Because I am so many different things – again, as we all are – there are going to be differences in opinions and beliefs among the people I know. But these days, I am too tired of arguing through the crap and lies to get to the real issues of debate.
So for the near future, I am done. I quit. If your political and religious opinions are different than mine, I don’t want to hear about them. I am done justifying my life and my beliefs to you or anyone else. Think this President is great? I don’t care to hear it. And in return for your silence around me, I will refrain from pointing out to you that I think the Republican Party has been hijacked by hypocritical fundamentalists. You stop emailing me crap about Kerry and Clinton and Gore, and I will stop sending you links to news reports about so-called “Christians” being arrested for sexual or financial crimes. Stop repeating everything you hear on Fox News or talk-radio, and I will stop calling you a mindless automaton. Stop telling me that anything I believe that contradicts the President must be a lie. And most importantly, stop thinking this country is yours and that you alone sit on the moral high-road. Your arrogance appalls me.