According to Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Executive Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, in a presentation sponsored by the Topeka-based Sunflower Foundation’s Advocacy, stated, “The escalating war of words is a clear and present danger to American democracy.”
She was speaking at a presentation sponsored by the Topeka-based Sunflower Foundation’s Advocacy in Health speaker series.
“Civility is an essential ingredient in a free democracy,” Lukensmeyer said in the Spring of 2018 to an audience at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. “Our system is dependent on the capacity to absorb, assimilate and productively deal with difference.”
“The current level of hostility in the nation’s political discourse rivals that of the Civil War era,” Lukensmeyer said, warning that it will take decades to rebuild the social norms being destroyed in the aftermath of Trump’s election on the part of both parties.
Lukensmeyer stressed the one element we can control is how we, as individuals behave. We should respect each other as human beings and promote civil discussions and rebuild our connections and our communities. The most important thing is to listen to one another.
It would seem the candidates and the parties caused a ripple effect through social media and in conversations across America and the world to actually draw a line in the sand. “If you really believe this, I cannot tolerate your presence.” “If you are going to vote for him or her, then you must be truly immoral, and we have very little in common anymore.”
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Is there a way for us to just see each other as people, rather than as the labels above? Maybe the first step is to drop the labels. A person cannot possibly be all conservative or all liberal about every single thing in their life. They may have some liberal or conservative beliefs but that isn’t the essence of who they really are as a person, is it?
We are calling people who are mothers and fathers names, grandparents, someone who might just save our lives some day in the operating room. You know that person might have voted for Barack Obama twice, but they might be the best surgeon in town. Think about it. People are more than their political beliefs. Unless we can dialog, democracy is lost.
We are taught to never discuss religion and politics and perhaps maybe those two things are the very two things we should have learned to discuss in a more civil way. Sometimes when we dialog, we actually learn something about the topic, about each other, and most importantly, about ourselves.
Our democracy in the next year and a half depends on the people engaging and listening to important dialog. With the latest development of events, we need to listen and talk about facts and also things that are blown out of proportion. There will be both. The important thing is to listen to each other regardless of disagreement. And when we debate, try to be civil to the other person and form a much-needed connection with someone who believes a little different than you do. When we are able to do this, we are forming new building blocks for our democracy to stand upon.
We are in charge of how this United States of America works and how the process of our democracy works. This democracy can only win if we are all engaged, voting and working together to make this country rise above the negative problems. As Abraham Lincoln wisely said, “A nation divided cannot stand.” He was right then, and those words ring true today. We have to unite to make our country great again.