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In reading Mr. Fonzi’s latest missive (“When words become weapons,” April 13), I must admit that I totally agree with his premise. Words can result in events spiraling out of control and beget violent confrontations that become worse over time. The political left and right have always been at some level of conflict, but over the last decade or so it has become much worse. Where we once had disagreements over issues, we now demonize the other side. This behavior only creates more problems; it does not solve them.

Since we all engage in some level of self-deception, it may be hard for you, Mr. Fonzi, to believe this, but you are part of this problem and not part of the solution. Both sides, liberals as well as conservatives are just as guilty of this behavior. It perpetuates because of self-deception. Just as others can see our faults better than we can see our own, we can see this behavior in those on the other side of the political divide. But at the same time, we rationalize our own behavior as acceptable because we’re the ones in the right. Think about this. How can it be right, if this behavior leads to more rancor and intransigence on both sides, as it obviously has?

The cure is not to blame the other side exclusively, as this will only perpetuate the problem. If both liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, focus on cleaning up their own house, we just might regain the level of political civility of years gone past. One side cannot shame the other side into changing their behavior, but peer pressure is apt to be more effective if it’s exerted from peers who share the same side of the political divide as yourself, whichever side that is. This country is built upon a great many different cultures and points of view getting along. The hard work our ancestors have put into this endeavor is at risk if we don’t try to be a little more self-reflective and work together, focusing on what worked before. Remember, bipartisanship is not a crime, so let’s not treat it like one and stop demonizing others who think differently than ourselves.

-- Donald Merrill - Arroyo Grande

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