What has happened to civilized discourse?
Back in the day, most humans were capable of having a disagreement without it devolving into verbal fisticuffs.
Nowadays, if you’ve spent even a bit of time online, you’ve noticed that there are no more disagreements. There’s cutthroat carnage, violent eviscerations, and thoughtless thuggery, but no polite attempts to agree to disagree.
When I listen to people on opposing sides of an issue, like, oh, I don’t know, maybe vaccines, I usually hear the adult equivalent of, “Oh yeah? Well, your mama wears Army boots!” And I’m talking the truly nasty adult equivalent.
No one is persuaded to another’s point of view by inflammatory speech and vaguely (or specifically) threatening non sequiturs.
We have to listen to each other. And while we’re listening, we can’t be thinking of what we’re going to say when it’s our chance to speak. We simply need to listen. Then think. Then speak the way we prefer to be spoken to by others.
This is not Pollyannaish, this is practical.
Life is busy. If I’m going to spend time attempting to have a conversation with someone whose views on vaccination differ from mine, then I want to spend that time trying to convince them, not alienate them.
I am far from perfect and in no way an example of civilized discourse on a day-to-day basis. But, I’m trying. Maybe we can all try. See what happens.
By Trish Parnell
Image courtesy of Elton Harding