With Chuck Woodbury
I was very disheartened last Saturday by many of the remarks about our cover story, which I wrote. I will not even mention the subject for fear of stirring the pot again. More than 400 readers commented, an all-time high for this website. Many of those comments were just plain mean-spirited.
Like many people, I am saddened by the rudeness, the meanness of our society, where so many people are so disrespectful to those who may disagree with their beliefs.
I have written bylined essays for more than three decades. Before the internet I received dozens of letters each week from my readers. They arrived in my mailbox. They were almost never rude. People disagreed with me often, but they did so with respect. Not anymore, not with the Internet.
Liberals hate Conservatives and Conservatives hate Liberals. My grandmother told me when I was a little boy to refrain from using the word “hate” unless I really meant it. I’m sorry, Grandma, for disobeying.
In the two years Gail and I traveled full time in our RV, we met a thousand other RVers. We sat around campfires. We joined together for evening cocktails. I never remember one person jumping on another person because they said something that conflicted with their own beliefs. I am sure those people represented the entire political spectrum. And yet we enjoyed our conversations and laughed often.
Some readers of this newsletter think they know it all; they have all the answers. They are right and those who disagree with them are wrong. They have, what the late motivational speaker Zig Ziglar used to call, “hardening of the attitudes.”
The thing is, if you think about it, the people they verbally assault are almost all good people — “Mom” and “Dad” to their kids and “Grandpa” and “Grandma” to their grandkids. They are treasures to their friends. They go to church, volunteer in their communities, do good deeds. And, like you and me, they enjoy their RVs and the lifestyle we are so fortunate to lead. Their politics may be different. What is so wrong with that? Isn’t that our right in a democracy?
Yet, those mean-spirit people can vent their anger, even hatred, when communicating online. Would they say the same if they were face-to-face? I doubt it.
The internet has given everyone the power to share their views with hundreds, even thousands of others. All one needs is a computer or smartphone. The person they attack is faceless, as are they. What has happened to some people that they are so disrespectful to others? Most of us are trying our best. We don’t attack our next door neighbors for being different, but strangers … bombs away! Is it wrong that we should say what we believe, in hopes that in conversation (or in writing) we can come to understand others’ points of view? How do we ever learn, even grow, if we stop exploring ideas that conflict with our own?
To those of you who respect others, who enjoy hearing others’ opinions, you are to be treasured in today’s angry world. I hope you remain a part of this audience for as long as I can move my fingers across a keyboard.