Where Has Civil Discourse Gone?

In the last 24 hours, I have heard a former President of the United States say that all those of us who attended a Tea Party and disagree with President Obama are racist, and read scathing, hateful letters sent to my congressional representative, Jeff Flake (R – Arizona), because he broke ranks with the Republican Party and voted to reprimand Representative Joe Wilson for calling President Obama a liar.

Where has civil discourse gone?

I am very much opposed to most of the political policies being fostered by President Obama and the Democratic Party, but why can’t we debate these issues in a civilized manner? Why can’t we seek to find common ground and then with passion, fervor and logic, state our respective cases without sinking to vitriol and hate?

Certainly not all attendees at tea parties are racist any more than all Democrats are communist.  Why do politicians, pundits and ordinary people too often espouse those broad, vindictive generalities? Can we not can find a way to disagree with our President without decorating a picture of him with a Hitler moustache or a Joker blackface?  Can we not express a difference of opinion with folks in a Tea Party protest without labeling them as a racist mob?

In his book Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes, Gordon B. Hinckley wrote:

“Civility carries with it the essence of courtesy, politeness, and consideration of others.  All the education and accomplishments in the world will not count for much unless they are accompanied by marks of gentility, of respect for others, of going the extra mile.”

We are fellow citizens of the greatest nation in the world. One of the most precious freedoms we enjoy is the freedom of expression.  We always have and always will have wide differences of opinion.  But I sincerely hope will we dig deep within ourselves, recognize each other as the brothers and sisters we truly are, and learn how to restore civility to our society.

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