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The Midlife Sage Says: It’s Civil Discourse, Stupid

My friends include conservatives, liberals, and even some confused horticulturalists.

Their diversity of opinions creates a rich and lively stew of beliefs, and I enjoy the debate.

Two of my best friends hold opposite political views from mine, but we respect each other’s attitudes, even though I’m right.

I’ve always read letters to the editor in the newspaper and now I scan online comments on various publications and blogs.

Over the past few years, the anonymous posts have digressed from snarky to absolutely vile.

I imagine some loser hunkered over a dingy computer writing “Die, you ugly moron!” and hitting the send button. Then what? Do they chuckle at the power to prove their uselessness to society?

In 1869, Charles Darwin wrote Origin of the Species and included the phrase “survival of the fittest” to argue that species adapt by natural selection with the best suited mutations becoming dominant.

Since then, some tragic trick of nature reversed that theory as more people force their ignorance, hostility, and intolerance upon the rest of us. It’s difficult to celebrate diversity when the discourse is uncivil and the survivors are unfit.

Facebook provides a glimpse into the lives of my friends and associates.

Sometimes I offer an opinion on provocative posts, but I usually appreciate other’s opinions and move to another conversation. And, I would rather hit my head with a hammer than get into a political debate.

No one’s mind is changed and it’s a waste of time. Another fact to remember: An Internet post is there forever.

Recently I experienced an emotional event as my mother suffered a stroke. She was given 72 hours to live, and it was my obligation to prepare her funeral arrangements. Facebook provided a way to reach out to friends because I was alone during this ordeal. When I couldn’t sleep at night, I read the responses and they provided comfort like a long-distance hug.

The encouraging words came from people with opposite political and religious beliefs. For the moment, all the rhetoric didn’t matter as they reached out with genuine compassion. We always can intelligently disagree another day.

My mother miraculous survived, and again I turned to Facebook to share the news. Responses were supportive, and we all got on with our lives. Now, if we could teach this productive and positive example to the bickering, ineffective members of Congress, we might be able to save the country from impending doom.

Read more posts by Elaine Ambrose, award winning author. Elaine is a blogger for JenningsWire.