Regrettably, we live in an ever more polarized society. Politics, whether at a national, state or local level, are all about winning elections and maintaining power, and not getting any real work done. Politicians at every level are too busy attacking one another. Additionally, it is nigh on impossible to disagree with the opinions of anyone who is a member of an oppressed, maligned, or ill-treated group of people, no matter how well thought out and/or backed up in fact your opinion may be. Nowadays, any form of disagreement is often construed as persecution.

I grant you there is a lot of ugly rhetoric going on out there which absolutely should not be tolerated. Social media platforms need to be much quicker to delete posts and cancel accounts of hate-mongers and spreaders of blatantly false narratives. There must be zero tolerance for such behavior. It must be called out. It must be stamped out whenever its ugly head pops up.

However, I can disagree with your ideas without attacking you personally. I can respect your ideas, even if I disagree with them. We can have a lively, loud debate and still shake hands when it’s over. Our legal system in this country is actually called an adversarial system, where opposing sides get to defend their clients, ideally without attacking one another personally. Heck, opposing counsel have been known to go out to lunch together after a case is over.

When we try to guilt-trip good people who happen to disagree with us into silence we become no better than the haters, the oppressors themselves. A healthy society thrives upon diversity and that includes diversity of ideas, even some with which you may disagree.

On Nov. 8, 1838, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his journal a very sage observation that definitely applies today: “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” 

Amen.

Louise Mezzatesta
River Forest

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