A return to civility


I am an opinionated and often confrontational person when it comes to the wellbeing of the country that I love, particularly when I feel backed into a corner on a subject about which I am educated and passionate.

I acknowledge it, I own it, and I work on it daily. It feels like it has been 2020 for 10 years. We have controversial leaders, a deadly pandemic, and more access to information than ever before.

As Stan Lee famously wrote for his iconic character Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility” … and what greater power do we have than the way we choose to use our words?

It is a power that I have often wielded like a weapon when I perhaps should have used it as a bridge towards understanding. Words can heal or harm. It’s all in the way that you use them.

I’m certain that my opinions, accompanied by my dearth of inner monologue, have caused emotional harm to others and in this age of instant access, it’s far too easy to get caught up in the passion of the moment and not acknowledge the humanity behind those words.

While I will never apologize for the positions I have taken, I sincerely and humbly apologize for the words that I have chosen to convey those positions.

Anyone who has followed me on social media knows that I have very strong takes and no qualms about taking to task the people whom I believe are disseminating less than factual information, but it’s time for a different approach.

Not only for myself, but for all of us. It’s time to sit down across from people with whom we disagree and find out why they feel the way they do.

It’s time to realize that the values of certain political parties carry more weight for some folks and their way of life than do the personal values of the figureheads elected to represent those parties.

Not all Democrats want to outlaw guns, abolish law enforcement and give everyone a pay check just for existing and not all Republicans hate minorities and wish to abolish gay marriage and Reproductive rights.

The entire existence of the two party system relies on an “us versus them” tactic and we have taken the bait, hook, line, and sinker.

I have friends whose livelihood depends on many programs that are heavily supported by the Republican party just as I have friends whose health and well being are cornerstones the Democratic Party.

In the aftermath of the election it has become clear that, regardless of the person for whom you voted, it is possible if not likely, that you do not subscribe to all of their beliefs.

I was raised in a Republican family, chose early in my adulthood to become a Democrat and am now in the process of reconciling my utter contempt for what both parties have become.

I’ve considered myself an independent for nearly a decade and truly wish that others would do the same.

We have the power to bring back civil discourse, we have the power to disagree with the opinions of others without making them feel personally attacked and we have the obligation as patriotic American citizens of all types to start, this very moment, reconstructing the American dream out of the rubble that we have allowed it to become by not attending every argument to which we are invited.

We must do this not only for ourselves and our children, but for the very ideal of a democratic society for which we have been the standard bearer for nearly 250 years.

We can debate without being ugly. I’m asking everyone to join me in a pledge to pause before we speak, to choose kindness, and to stop weaponizing our contempt for certain people and using it as a way to fully disregard the opinions of an entire section of our great nation.

We as Americans are well within our rights to choose Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Jo Jorgensen, Kanye West or anyone else that a particular party chooses to represent their views but at the end of the day the choice that we need to make is to be attentive, empathetic and kind.

Steven Deweese is a resident of Seymour. Send comments to [email protected]

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