A counter demonstrator uses a lighted spray can against a white nationalist demonstrator at the entrance to Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and police dressed in riot gear ordered people to disperse after chaotic violent clashes between white nationalists and counter protestors. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
I trust you’ll forgive me abandoning the usual wait-until-we-know-more approach we like to take when it comes to breaking news like what we’re seeing today, but I am fully convinced that the message I feel compelled to deliver cannot wait.
We have seen over the last several months an increase in hatred and volatile behavior in our political system. On both sides of the aisle, we have begun treating each other as way worse than enemies. We have seen politicians and pundits alike swear that the time for civility is over. It is time to be disruptive.
But, there are no limits. There are no checks. As a result, people have run amok.
Antifa on one side and white supremacists on the other. Clashes in the streets as activists kick and punch and attack those who do not agree with them. Mobs shouting down and even attacking those they don’t like. Hell, a giant rock was apparently thrown through Kevin McCarthy’s office window and government property stolen.
Suspicious, possibly explosive, packages sent to the Clintons, Barack Obama, George Soros, and the White House? Suspicious powder sent to the Pentagon and Susan Collins?
Many of you reading this will be pissed at me for not calling out one side over another or assigning blame. Whatever the evidence shows, whoever is more guilty than the other, is not the point.
The point is that we, as people, have lost the ability to love our fellow man.
When you spend your time riling up the masses – or being riled up alongside them – you begin to rationalize and mentally you dehumanize the people who do not agree with you. They aren’t with you, so they must be the enemy. When one side says “We don’t need to be civil!” the other side decides that they don’t have to be, either.
It is unacceptable that we have fallen to such depths as a society. We are supposed to be better than this. Whether you think that Trump has instigated all this or that the Resistance has gone too far in opposing him, both sides should stop and realize that those they disagree with are still people who have the right to exist alongside them.
But we do not have that anymore. Instead, we have a lunatic (or more than one) who thinks that sending suspicious and possibly bomb-like packages to political opponents – including a cable news outlet – is now acceptable. That doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
Yes, evil and crazy do exist, but they exist almost entirely as a response to external stimuli. Something sets them on their path. Could it be that the increased volatility and dehumanization of our fellow man is to blame?
“No,” some will respond. They may respond with “It is clearly the fault of Donald Trump!” or “This is all the anti-American traitors in Antifa!” But, both of those cases are themselves responses to some other stimuli. Something else.
It began long ago. I’m not entirely sure when, but it is not new. It is just spiraling out of control now, and it is impossible for our country to continue as it once did if we cannot reclaim that civility.
So, I am asking not that one side or another stop the madness. I am saying that everyone should stop, take a step back, and think about what it is you’re doing, right now, to end this chaos. This is not sustainable in any country, much less one with a history of coming together for the side of good like the United States has time and again.