posted on Jan, 31 2013 @ 02:20 PM
To begin this thread I find it necessary to go back in time to, really, any point previous to Sandy Hook. There have always been chasms that people
from the left and right just cannot seem to find any bridges across. But prior to Sandy Hook it just seems like those no mans land areas were smaller
and less menacing. Please, allow me to share my own experience and perceptions.
When I first arrived at ATS I thought I was pretty conservative. I've been dealing with an illness for the past five years - so it is entirely
possible that I actually was more conservative than I am now - and just don't see the change in myself. The mirror shows me a bit older than
it used to - but it looks like the same "me" that's always been there. So maybe I lack perspective enough to notice any changes. Conservatism is an
easy thing to embrace when ones neighborhood is upper middle class, ones job is in management, and ones bank account is healthy. It's much harder to
share those same "survival of the fittest" ideals when one stops being the fittest.
Whatever the case, it didn't take long for ATS to label me liberal. That is something I first made peace with, and now tend to embrace. That word. At
first it really offended me because I had predisposed ideas of what "liberal" meant. When I heard it I would, in my minds eye, see hippies and
1960's activists like Patty Hearst or the Weather Underground... I'd see Charles Manson. It wasn't something I was comfortable being called. Time
has resolved that issue. Now I tend to see more noble faces, like Gandhi or MLK - and I find pride in the idea that these are men who changed the
world with their ideas - not with threats or armies. That is the way it should be.
Besides. The reality is that this is the Internet and the Internet is something like an amplifier for these things. Here we tend to turn up the volume
on our "isms" far louder than we'd do so in the real world. Even if we think we don't? We do.
Over the years I had some extremely heated debates with any number of members who identified as conservative. I'll let you in on a secret though.
More often than not, even as the debates were raging, the other party and I were in very civil and friendly communication via U2U - saying things like
"I hope you don't take that lost shot too personally. I like you and all, but I had to stand my ground! LOL!" There were even times, more than I
can count, where another member and I would be going at each other like a Kennedy at an open bar - only to end up on the same side, defending one
another and standing in unison when some random member happened to wander in and attacked either one of us too harshly.
There was a friendly spirit of debate and a camaraderie underneath it all that was very fulfilling and created an atmosphere where it was safe to
speak ones mind.
Then Sandy Hook happened and it seems to have all changed in an instant.
It's not just that tensions have increased. It's not just that the divide between conservative and liberal has widened from a chasm into what seems
like an endless ocean. It's more than that. It's like something broke and now instead of "I disagree but respect your right to believe that" - it
is more like "You don't deserve to live". There is a much, much greater violence lurking within us suddenly - from both sides. And it's frankly
very frightening to me. Not on a personal level. I'm one of those idiots who'll fight anyone. But I am just sane enough to understand that society
cannot suffer an ass kicking quite as well as I can. Break my ribs and I'll scarf down some Motrin and buy you a beer the next night. Society isn't
wired that way. Harm it and it holds grudges for generations. That is what scares me. Not the current divisions... the potential implications of those
More to the current situation though. This increase in vitriol stifles debate and communication in so many ways. Not only are we currently unwilling
to hear what the other side says - but we are also ( at least in my case ) now engaging in this very unhealthy sort of self-censorship... holding back
ideas or statements to avoid the hassle. All this really does is cause the pressure to build and, in the end, to make things worse because one can
only hold in so much before one completely explodes and overreacts at some point - thus creating an even greater divide and even more resentment.
I stopped posting for awhile because of this phenomenon. Then I came back, all fired up. That lasted about an hour before I found myself, once again,
biting my tongue and feeling queasy. Now? Now it's like this strange dance of trying to go through the motions, completely aware that I'm way too
stressed out to have any sense of rhythm. I'm tight, stiff, and out of sync. As I glance out, across the dance floor, painfully aware of my own
robotic movement I find that there are many people present who seem to be in the same boat as me. They're moving like robots and frantically looking
around as well.
To be honest, part of me wants to just hang up my political hat and develop an interest in bigfoot or UFO's or something. Maybe more than just a part
of me. The only thought that stops me is that liberals tend to be passive in nature. They tend to want peaceful things. Thus it occurs to me that if
all liberals feel this way and we all just take the easy way out? Well? We'll find ourselves living in a nightmare world where Ayn Rand, Ronald
Reagan, and Jesus are the Holy trinity and anyone who doesn't fit an exacting mold is either deported or killed - all in the name of survival of the
fittest. So I keep trying.
In the long run, folks, this is my America just like it's your America. Neither of us supersedes the others place in this nation. We are a country
where all have a voice and none can be silenced. And that is the most precious and important thing that we've got. It is what makes our nation
what it is. Not corporations, not free medical care ( or not ), not party affiliation or political bent... but the freedom of all to speak - to pursue
life, liberty, and happiness.
We can debate exactly what all that means until the cows come home. That, IMO, is what the Framers intended when they set this all in motion.
When it gets so we feel that we cannot speak? Or when we are silenced by others because they feel that their opinion outweighs ours? When a drone
arises to silence the smaller voice? Well... that's not America. And if that's what we end up with? We're already too late.
We need to find, again, that place within ourselves where we respect even that which we disagree with. At least I know that I need to find it again.