Phyllis Zimbler Miller – Presidential Election: Can We Behave Civilly to Each Other?

I don’t write on political topics – I’m not going to write here about why you should vote for the Presidential candidate for whom I’m voting.

I am going to ask you to behave considerately towards people with different political views than your own. (This considerate behavior was not on display in the first Presidential debate this evening that I just watched.)

Remember the hive mind of the Borg from the Star Trek franchise? We Americans do not have a Borg society, so of course we all have different opinions on so many things, including who should be elected the next President.

And because we are individuals, we have our different reasons for why we think Candidate A or Candidate B should be elected. And those individual reasons need to be respected.

If in the next few weeks before the Election you do discuss candidates, please keep to a civilized tone and do not engage in name calling. Do not call your best friend an “idiot” because he or she is voting differently than you. Do not say, “How can you vote for that candidate?” Assume each person has thought about his or her vote as thoroughly as you have.

The U.S. has enough problems now without letting our choice of Presidential candidate tear families and friends apart with divisions that may never be mended.

We can, of course, choose to express our preference and the reasons for our preference. Yet this should be done in a non-antagonizing way. We use our words to connect with people – we shouldn’t use name-calling and aspersions to create hatred.

Whoever wins the election, the country is going to need all the goodwill people can muster to get us through this divisive time in the midst of COVID, economic downturns, violent protests, forest fires, hurricanes, and whatever else Mother Nature and/or foreign powers may have in store for us.

I have recently noted the establishment of new organizations committed to encouraging dialogue among disparate viewpoints. While these organizations can serve a helpful purpose, I think a more productive use of time, effort and resources is to actually do something rather than talk about it.

As Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

I have read about someone who said that, every time her mentor and she spoke, her mentor would ask her what she had done for her country that day. During Yom Kippur remote synagogue services this year (the evening of September 27 and the day of September 28), I thought about that exhortation to daily do something for one’s country.

In answer to myself, I decided that reaching out each day to someone new about my free nonfiction theater Holocaust project www.ThinEdgeOfTheWedge.com – developed to combat anti-Semitism and hate – is what I’m doing to help counteract the current religious and racial hatred in the U.S.

Although reaching out to a single person isn’t major, if someone to whom I reach out uses the free resources for himself/herself and perhaps others, then that reaching out could swell to educating more people. After all, one small step could lead to bigger and bigger steps.

In conclusion, two simple requests:

First, is there some small act that you could do each day to help people move forward through these difficult times?

Second, would you share my free nonfiction Holocaust education resources with people who could use these, especially middle schools and high schools doing remote learning? (See www.ThinEdgeOfTheWedgeProject.com)

And finally, stay safe for yourself and others. WEAR A MASK, practice social distancing, and wash your hands!

 

 

 

Comments 21

  1. Joylene, in the words of Earth wind and Fire….”When you wish upon a star
    Your dreams will take you very far
    But when you wish upon a dream
    Life ain’t always what it seems
    What’d you see on a night so clear
    In the sky so very dear
    You’re a shining star
    No matter who you are
    Shining bright to see
    What you could truly be”
    You inspire most of us to be better, which is hard to do in these strange times. It is so very much work to decide who is right, who is trying to be right, who is trying to keep us from knowing right from wrong, this sword we wield these days ( I wish it was only two edged) called the internet has such promise to lead us to a bright future, and much forboding that it can lead us into darkness as well.Too often I hear” I read it on the internet…It must be true” It is truly a large task to “fact check enough until I am mostly sure what is true and what is “FAKE NEWS” Even the “fact checkers” must often be fact checked. Joylene, here I will plagerize……,.,. I think, I think I am, therefore I am, I think.
    Of course you are my bright little star,
    I’ve miles
    And miles
    Of files
    Pretty files of your forefather’s fruit
    And now to suit our
    Great computer,
    You’re magnetic ink.
    I’m more than that, I know I am, at least, I think I must be.
    There you go man, keep as cool as you can.
    Face piles
    And piles
    Of trials
    With smiles.
    It riles them to believe
    That you perceive
    The web they weave
    And keep on thinking free.

  2. Thank you to everyone who has chimed in on this post. I really appreciate this “civil” discussion of the divisions in our country. We all must find a way to work together or we’ll be ripped into ugly pieces.

    Stay safe, civil, and wear a mask!

  3. It’s incredibly divisive right now. I try to keep my mouth shut about politics. My husband and I are opposite in our views of politics, so we don’t talk much to each other about it, either. We’ve got plenty else to talk about.

  4. Everything has a political bent these days. I don’t do politics. Every side has its story, often skewed to fit the story. Always with a grain of truth somewhere in all the conjecture. I just try to be the best person I can be and ignore the rest.

  5. I struggle with this. I believe deeply in civility, but the well-being of people I care about is being threatened by the actions of one of our major political parties and its current standard-bearer. I do not and will not insult others for their beliefs, but I do think less of people who support and cheer cruelty, and I’ve cut a few people out of my life because they’ve been so hateful. I don’t know how the US will heal from the divisions that have been stoked and tended over the last 40+ years. I’ve never seen it this bad.

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      I do understand, Janet. What’s going on is dividing a lot of families and friends. I think that’s why it’s so important to be civil. It starts there. If you or I need to distance ourselves from certain people, then that’s what we need to do. I think the world will heal. I think when all is said and done, we’ll be better world citizens. That’s my hope.

  6. I didn’t expect this post when I popped over to visit you for #IWSG day, but I’m so glad to have read it – thank you Joylene. I agree heartily with the sentiments and the suggestions. It’s something I started to practice after the incredibly divisive Brexit scenario in the UK, when we saw similar battle lines being drawn with friends & family falling out all over the place. It is a tough line to walk though.

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  7. What an excellent and timely post, Phyllis and Joylene. Thanks for sharing it. I try to flash smiles at everyone. Even if you are wearing a mask, people know you are smiling by the light in your eyes. I try to be kind and give people the benefit of the doubt. You never know what someone is dealing with. As for politics, I rarely talk about it with anyone but my husband and close family members. My fallback is that we all have the privilege and responsibility to vote, so make sure you vote. I am sick of division and disrespect.

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  8. Sadly the group screaming loudest for their voices to be heard are the same ones who will condemn you if your voice doesn’t match theirs and it has made for a lot of ugliness. There is a lot of talk that we may descend into a civil war over all of this.

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  9. I guess my one small contribution is not to contribute in any way to the polarization that we’re experiencing. Instead of expressing my “hatred” for any candidate, I focus on the facts. I don’t even try to interpret them in a discussion; I simply point to the source and let the other party make up their minds. Great post.

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