from CharlesEisenstein Website
Anyone who reads Facebook or pretty much any political website is sure to see comments like these that dehumanize not only the opposing candidate, but the candidate's supporters too.
This polarization and
vitriol, unprecedented in my lifetime, has me more concerned than
the prospect of an evil candidate winning. It is as if what is
really going on here is a preparation for civil war.
When you see your
opponents as subhuman in their morals, conscience, or intelligence,
then you will have to defeat them by force. Moral or rational
persuasion won't do it. That is what the above-quoted comments
Photos of political candidates chosen to provoke contempt, statements taken deliberately out of context… the no-holds-barred tactics of war.
Both sides feature the most outrageous comments made by partisans of the other side, seeking to indict all of them through guilt by association.
Similar to the atrocity
stories used to whip up war hysteria among a pacifist public before
World War One, these reports polarize the electorate and sow
paranoia and distrust.
Most of my readers are probably familiar with articles about gun-toting "poll watchers" sent by Trump operatives to intimidate voters. But unless you read right-wing media, you won't be aware of its earnest, indignant articles about agents provocateur from the Clinton camp seeking to sow violence at Trump rallies.
Each side claims the
other exaggerates and misconstrues. Each side is constructing a
reality in which the other is hideous.
Headline news in one camp is totally absent from the other. It isn't just the interpretation of the news that is different - the two sides don't even agree on fundamental facts.
Here's how one Facebook commentator, Amelia Bagwell, describes the experience of reading a conservative friend's news feed:
Such a gulf of perception
inflamed by hatred presents a very dangerous situation.
What I do know, though, is that the vast majority of ordinary people are not the cartoonish caricatures of human beings that political rhetoric has made them out to be.
They have an experience
of life, a history, a convergence of circumstances that has brought
them to their opinions. Just like you.
They are reprehensible,
appalling… they are deplorable.
They seem just hateful.
The truth can only be sourced from the sincere question,
That is called compassion, and it invites skills of listening, dialog, and communicating without violence or judgment.
Now there may be times when such skills fail and there is no choice but to fight. Failure is guaranteed, though, when the surrounding narrative casts the opponent as evil, twisted, disgusting, or deplorable.
In that case, war is the likely result.
These tactics might seem
to succeed in the short term - one side or another will win - but in
the end we have only strengthened the climate of hate and the
mentality of war.
I suggest the following: see to it that you imbue everything that you post to social media, every comment, every reply, with a spirit of compassion and respect.
Do not let your pain
erupt forth as an implicit call to hatred. Do not beat the drums of