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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Wanting what is best for everyone

Don't most of us want what is best for everyone? Especially the basics? Aren't we all Americans? Don't we simply seek these things in different ways?

In his book Tribe, about the complexities of veterans returning home from war, the author Sebastian Junger (a journalist who has spent years reporting on the front lines) speaks of many compelling aspects including "how do you make veterans feel that they are returning to a cohesive society that was worth fighting for in the first place?" He cites the destructive behavior of our politics as one that damages veterans and says, for instance:

"The most alarming rhetoric comes out of the dispute between liberals and conservatives, and it's a dangerous waste of time because they're both right."

Take that in for a minute. Really. Why do we continue to obsess about our differences instead of focusing on our core similarities in order to reach a resolution?

From Junger's perspective, we are living "in a society that is basically at war with itself" and that "people speak with incredible contempt" about whatever is relegated to the so-called other side. And, he says that "it's a level of contempt that is usually reserved for enemies in wartime, except that now it's applied to our fellow citizens."

How tragic is that?

He goes on to say that "unlike criticism, contempt is particularly toxic because it assumes a moral superiority in the speaker."

We truly need to understand that what we're doing and saying is destructive for all of us, for our country. Criticize if you must. Disagree on how to achieve what is best for everyone. But can we please stop heaping contempt upon those who think differently?

I'm not preaching. I'm at fault, too. I'm begging for all of us to be less divisive and more constructive in our conversation and behavior.

I want what's best for the greater good. Don't you?
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