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Civility, Civility, wherefore art thou Civility

I never thought that I would be involved in a time of such significant division as we are now in.

Before I go into more details as to what I mean by this, I want to clarify that I know our current moment is not the most divided time in our nation’s history. We have gone through revolutions and the fight over slavery, both of which led to war and the country being split over blood. But, what I do believe is that social media and the fast pace of the internet and social media has created an incubator for hate and aggression that is unprecedented.

As I scrolled through comments on several politicians’ social media posts yesterday, I couldn’t help but feel a slight hopelessness as a result of the utter ignorance I saw. Commenters categorized, unjustly demeaned, and spewed hate towards other political groups, some of which I consider myself a part of.

Mentally ill and lunatics were just some of the descriptors I saw. Some commenters even displayed their hopes for people like me to “self-deport” and “go extinct”. I have never been exposed to such baseless hate before. Though the comments may not have been directed at me in specific, I still could not help but take them to heart. I had never done anything to these people, had only ever tried to listen to others and base my arguments in fact, treat all people with respect, and yet, these individuals who I had never met believed me to be inherently bad. I could not believe that people could be so narrow minded to believe that every member of a social or political group could be defined by such simple and demeaning terms.

And this is not a one-sided issue, I constantly see and hear people who on “my side of the aisle” take a gander across and throw unnecessary insults and stereotypes towards the other side.

This is not who we should be, not even just as Americans but as civil human beings. Instead, we have to begin to listen, and instead of assuming those who disagree with you are your enemies, consider them your inspiration. Whether they inspire a change in thought, or a reaffirmation of your own beliefs, there always needs to exist a challenge to your personal, political, social, or economic thesis that you can use to support your own ideas. Begin engaging in civil discourse and discussion where instead of scapegoating out of uncomfortable situations, where you may not be well read on the topic at hand, you instead use the discomfort as a learning moment to hear others’ opinions from which you can build your own upon.

Democracy is a process of sharing, disagreement, but most importantly, civility. We need to return to a point where we stimulate our minds through discussion and learning, in turn allowing us to not only better our own tolerance and understanding, but the well-being of American society as a whole.

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