Oxymoron: Moral Politics II

The part one of this post published two weeks ago. I would like to post more frequently, but my “retirement” years have proven far more active than I once imagined. This is a good thing.

Also, part one uncovered for me a reality I vaguely suspected but had never confronted. I had a comment exchange with a reader who espoused civil war in the US. He was not only willing to commit to being part of the fight for one side of the political divide, he was convinced of the inevitability of the killing to achieve one political side’s ultimate control of the nation.

I have had to ponder a looming civil war. I must admit some incredulity that anyone would be intentional about another US civil war. The exchange did thrust me directly into what I intended regarding this essay on morality in politics.

Moral versus immoral is simply a value system of what is right and wrong. Arguably, this is not a set standard across our culture. With the waning of Judeo-Christian values through the 20th Century, our culture has diversified across multiple views of morality. This is, in part, a contributing factor to the current political polarization.

The presence of open anger in social exchange has grown across my lifetime — it is not suddenly erupting since the last election! Living north in New York City during the 70s rattled my view of common civility. However, it didn’t take long to see New Yorker society as simply steeped in a defensive posture grown reactive which masked a humanity even New Yorkers were capable of releasing. Yet, defensive reaction against one’s cultural counterparts, which one time I categorized as a regional defensiveness needed for survival in a stark, urban environment, is not what we have now. Rather, an aggressive, virulent anger expressed in the cyber world against one’s political enemy is a poisoning influence saturating our entire nation.

Simply put, the labeling, derisive rhetoric directed at people whose political views are on the other side is immoral. That is, it is a violation of basic right and wrong as set forth in the Bill of Rights and established as our cultural heritage: we are free to have our own conscience and express views based on the same.

Which is, of course, the source of our disagreeable discourse! It is a profound irony that those who are the worst offenders at attacking a person vehemently over his or her expressed political views is done based on “moral” grounds. A good example is from what many would expect is “my camp.” Christians who revile liberals in discourteous ways violate the morality of their own espoused belief system while claiming that value system as justification for their anger. To be fair, those wearing the “liberal” political view are frequently as judgmental and mean-spirited.

The solution is simple: make politics amoral. That is as neither right nor wrong morally. That doesn’t mean one hangs up any moral thinking or motivations. It just means we stop arguing over what is right or wrong politically. If both sides would simply be moral enough to stop verbally attacking other people who are free to have an opinion, we would have gained something. Consider this: an attack on the character of someone you do not know but with whom you disagree politically is an attack against the freedom to have one’s own conscience.

Learn the in’s and out’s of why you believe what you do and promote such. Influence anyone you can to share your belief and vote accordingly. Let the vote decide. Do not try to gain adherents to your side by shaming, blaming, vilifying another person. An opposing belief system is not the enemy. Hate is the enemy.

Will this work? Hmmm…maybe, maybe not. It depends of what “working” looks like to you. But it could build a more civil society. Never thought I would frame this discussion in such a way, but it may even help us avoid war and innocents of all age groups dying in needless ways.

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