Norma Sherry: Why Can't We All Just Along?
Why Can't We All Just Along?
By Norma Sherry
I've written on many topics, but none has touched the nerve for so many readers as my recent article, "Ann Coulter: The Conservative's Muse". The greater majority of those who wrote were in agreement with my assessment of her derisive style. But there were those who felt the need to demonstrate that they are very much aligned with Muse Coulter. She would be proud. Those that came to her defense were excellent students of her venomous style of attack.
It made me question how are we going to make a difference in this world if we can't all get along? There was no neutral sentiment; the reader was either one hundred percent with me or one hundred percent against me. The reaction made me contemplate the split.
It would appear that this split traverses every emotional, political, economic, sociologic condition. Hence, my somewhat, naiveté was shattered. Yes, indeed, there is a very clear and definitive split among our citizenry. We're either left or right, north or south, east or west, liberal or conservative, progressive or ultra-conservative. There is clearly no middle ground. No meeting of the minds. If Muse Coulter exemplifies the consensus, it would be evident there is also no gentle persuasion. There is also an explicit distinction between the new right and the left. I say new, because there is a new style of communication, of accusation, of in-your-face, down-your-throat personalities of the right.
I chose the description "personalities" versus journalists intentionally. Referring to them as journalists, broadcasters, or even communicators would be a misnomer at best, and at worst, an insult to the newsmen and women who artfully articulate and decipher the news. There is no Walter Cronkite of the right. To be perfectly accurate, there is Walter Cronkite anywhere, left, right or in the middle.and that's the way it is.
There is no longer any decorum and it is something that is sorely missing. It is as if the new genre of reality TV has propagated and birthed a new, very distasteful caliber of personality. Its name calling, it's mud-slinging, it's akin to bullies on the playground.
Turn on the television or tune on to a radio station on any given day - anywhere in the country - and you will be face to face, ear to mouth with these new pundits. On the right is Ann Coulter, the vipress; Rush Limbaugh, the self-appointed leader of the clan; Neal Boortz, the elder; the arrogant Sean Hannity; Matt Drudge, the mouth; Bill O'Reilly, who is just laughable if he weren't so nasty; presidential contenders, Pat Buchannan and TV evangelist's Pat Robertson; and lest I forget, the opinionated, egotistical Christian leader, Jerry Falwell. Then there are a whole slew of lesser-known but nonetheless, crude and bellicose personalities such as, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck, Dennis Prager, Eric Hogue, Michael Medved, and Mike Gallagher.
On both sides of the fence, there are a multitude of new-age television gurus - all pontificating their side of the truth. The difference, however, is as blatant as their personalities. Other than the sometimes-bellowing James Carville and the high-pitched angst of Chris Matthews, the moderate pundits are conspicuously audibly more refined. Their tact is in their vocabulary, in their clever banter, in their ability to put their opponent on the defensive. There was a time, in my time, when rudeness was unacceptable; when false statements were tantamount to dismissal; when the public would shun a liar. Nowadays, these very same tactics are a ticket to stardom and best-selling books and job on FOX-TV as a political analyst.
We are in dire need of a change. A change of our willingness to accept the unacceptable; a change to insist on accountability; a change towards the acceptance of responsibility; a change to become active participating citizens; a change to impugn those who do not live up to the standard of ethics.
We need to remove our rose-colored glasses; dismiss our naiveté; toss off our complacency, and insist on excellence in our politicians, our world leaders, our legislators, in our representatives, in our journalists, our newscasters, our pundits, in our teachers, our children, and in ourselves. Anything less should be offensive and undesirable.
We need to ask questions and expect answers. We need to respect one another and we need to be an example to our children and to the nation's of the world. We need to stop the name-calling, the shouting, and the in-your-face, flat-of-the-hand style of communication. We need to celebrate our differences, honor the honorable, acknowledge right, and disavow liars; we need to engage in inquisitive dialogues, investigate the questionable, to disengage from those that disgrace and dehumanize all of us.
We need to stop being separated by words and allowing them to define us. Conventional, unconventional, traditionalist, untraditional, solicitous, judicious, isolationist, puritan, puritanical, inflexible, discriminating, dictatorial, dyed-in-the-wool, old-line, extremist, reactionary, bourgeois, materialistic, reformist, middle-of-the-road, radical, revolutionary, die-hard, right-winger, left-winger, narrow-minded, small-minded, opinionated, biased, partisan, non-partisan, prejudiced, un-prejudiced, Bohemian, conformist, nonconformist, moderate, reasonable, unreasonable.
We've taken these words and made them who we are and we have held on steadfastly, as if our lives depended upon it. No one compromises anymore. It's as if the act of compromise is a display of weakness.
The point is that we are all far more alike than we are different. For so many of us we hold true to our beliefs and believe that only our beliefs are legitimate, rational, appropriate, justifiable, relevant, worthy.
If we don't stop hating each other and calling one another names than we are destined to be no more civilized than that which we kill for dinner. If we don't learn to listen to another point of view; to digest it; savor it, and toss it about in an honest dialogue, or albeit, debate, than how are we to grow.or learn? We have become contrary theorists. Perhaps just for the sake of being contrary.
What's at stake is our democracy and our republic. We must learn to get along or all that we hold to be true and love will cease.
© Norma Sherry 2003
Bio: Norma Sherry is co-founder of
Together Forever Changing, an organization devoted to
educating, stimulating, and igniting personal responsibility
particularly with regards to our diminishing civil
liberties. She is also an award-winning writer/producer.