I’ve never been a huge Eisenhower fan, and to be honest, I don’t really know too much about him. He was a two term president, a conservative who also happened to be against McCarthy, for civil rights and inclusion, and ultimately pretty good a foreign policy. He adhered to a policy of moderation and cooperation as a means of governance. Yeah, you got me, I just looked him up and that last bit is a direct quote from Wikipedia. I just read a bit about him and turns out he was an interesting guy that somehow gets overlooked when we mention presidents. Probably because he came after Truman, and World War II, and before Kennedy, who garnered a lot of attention.
What strikes me about this quote is how relevant it is today. We find ourselves in an era of bitter rivalry, and one might even say hatred, toward our fellows. Our political system is a prime example of this. Hate, fear, finger-pointing, and a general culture of unkindness seems to prevail. Individuals, and I see this all the time on Facebook, love to post hurtful, finger-pointing comments full of ridicule and scorn. Nowhere in that is a thought toward commonality, togetherness, kindness, or even an idea toward actually working a solution to our many problems. It’s all about how the other guy is an oaf or an idiot or simple-minded. Sadly, it’s the same behavior I saw so many times while I was working with at risk kids. People who post these inflammatory things are bullies. They wouldn’t call themselves that, no. They would say they are passionate about their topic of choice and are attempting to push change. They are wrong, just as people who try to bully have always been wrong. One does not get their way by pushing, cajoling, shoving, and name-calling. Name-calling… I’m appalled. Adults, people I know, do this. It’s like we’re back on the playground again. Ridiculous. Arrogant. Shameful.
If you are a passionate person about, well, anything, the way forward is to promote an idea, not knock someone else down for an opinion that differs from yours. Find what you feel are solutions and put those forward. Create ideas or support causes you feel are worthy and promote those. Stand up and state what you believe in, without saying that someone who believes differently is an idiot. They aren’t, they just don’t agree with you. And their not agreeing with you is OK too. Differing ideas bring different looks at a problem. We have a lot of problems, we need a lot of looks. If you must comment on the “other side”, do so by posting actual, honest and real, events or circumstances that happened that you don’t agree with. Then, comment on those with integrity, and an eye, again, toward solution.
I’m so tired, can you tell, of the trend toward mass posting these ridiculous saying and quotes about how liberals are this or that or tea party members are this or that. Blanket statements that do nothing to enrich the world. Mean quips and vicious comments about “those people”. You know what? I’m those people, and my mom is those people, my family is those people, and my friends are those people, on both sides. Before you post something of that nature, think of people you know, picture their faces, and decide if you would say whatever it is you are about to post right to their face. If you would, well then I guess you aren’t really a friend of mine because true friends of mine aren’t mean. Friends of mine are kind. I will, to borrow a phrase, accept no substitutes. Everyone, and I mean nearly everyone, is entitled to a measure of respect. You choose who you are. You can rise, be kind, elevate. Or you can degrade, denigrate, and wallow in the muck.
As Eisenhower, whose quote started this whole little stand on the soap box, said… “we must avoid becoming a community of dreadful hate and fear” and as the character Lindsey Brigman says in the movie The Abyss, “We all see what we want to see. Coffey looks and… he sees hate and fear. You have to look with better eyes than that.” I love that quote. It’s stuck with me. We see what we want, we create our world based on what we see and what we do. We have to be better, for the world and for each other. If we show a general disrespect for people we don’t even know, we disrespect ourselves, our children, our neighborhoods, our larger communities. We have to look with better eyes than that.