“Personal attacks have no place in civil discourse” or so I was taught in high school by Mr. McCollister. He labeled it “Wallowing in the quagmire of ignorance.”
According to my grandfather, somewhere in scripture it says “… if you fall, don’t wallow.” His rejoinder was, “but sometimes wallowing just feels good.” I’ve found the highest expression of this philosophy in the blues.
I have yet to find the scripture he quoted but I did find this:
“Simpletons! How long will you wallow in ignorance? Cynics! How long will you feed your cynicism? Idiots! How long will you refuse to learn?” – Proverbs 1:22 (Message translation)
A less than ringing endorsement of our current level of public discourse. But there it is. Our most striking example being the very public twitter feud between our current sitting president and Senator Bob Corker. President Trump consistently degrades Corker with the appellation “liddle” and Corker famously compared Trumps Whitehouse to “an adult daycare center.”
If we’re honest about it, most of us don’t mind when someone we don’t like is personally attacked. We enjoy seeing our “enemies” brought low. TV talkshow hosts Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers (to name only a couple) do it regularly and they do it well. They make fun of Trump’s tan, Kelly Ann Conway’s hair, Sebastian Gorka’s beard. The humor is pointed and it’s usually quite clever and it seeks to bring low those who would set themselves over us. It makes powerful people look ridiculous.
But I’m beginning to wonder if we’ve wallowed long enough. Mr. Mac used to caution that slinging barbs at one another makes us “feel good” but does little to enlighten or illuminate discussion and it closes off dialogue.
Not that people like Trump, Conway, or Gorka would be likely to listen. And talk shows are not the proscribed venues for “civic discourse”.
But the rest of us need start listening to each other if we’re going to get anywhere.
Because even though I hate to admit it, as much as I love Colbert’s monologue and as much as I agree with Corker’s assessment, I have neighbors that believe that Donald Trump is telling the God’s truth.