Rob Oxford: Enough Already!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Rob Oxford at his radio gig
By Rob Oxford

Over the past several weeks I've tried my best to write an article that I had hoped would say exactly what it is I have been feeling for quite some time, but honestly until now I was unable to find the words. It has been my goal to try and contribute an article to the paper every week or two, but recently my mind has been filled with nothing but garbage.

Just yesterday I submitted a piece that for the first time ever, was rejected by my Editor and quite frankly, it's because it was crap. I had tried too hard not to offend. I had tried to walk the fence. I was being untrue to myself and my feelings and my Editor knew it.

The one exception to all the political chaos that has consumed me lately, is the joy I experience watching my eldest son graduate from high school. Other than that, the past several months have been nothing but a constant struggle to try and decipher fact from fiction and truth from lies.

You can believe wholeheartedly in the message that the President and his party are trying to deliver. You can be Pro-Life. You can believe in "America First". You can believe we have an immigration problem. You can believe we are overtaxed. You can believe a business should have the right to refuse service to anyone. You can even believe Barrack Obama is a Muslim, born in Africa who still wants to take away your guns.

Furthermore you can choose to believe that all 19 women who have accused Mr. Trump of sexual misconduct are lying, you can choose to believe that his promise to reveal his taxes is of no consequence. You can believe he knows more than his Generals. You can also believe the Justice Department of the United States of America is made up of incompetent fools. 

This is America -- you can believe whatever you want. But in this writer's humble opinion, what you can't possibly believe is that the way your message is currently being disseminated is what is best for future generations.

I think we can all agree that we are "living in uncertain times". It's an expression I've heard used on many occasions and one whose origin I tried to research, but for the most part was unsuccessful. I've also heard, "things ain't what they used to be" and "we're not in Kansas anymore", the latter of course usually in an attempt to be humorous. But it's true, we aren't in Kansas.

If we were I'm almost certain my particular style of writing would be most unwelcome. Finally, "The Times They Are A Changing". There's another one. Immortalized in a 1964 song by the great Bob Dylan. Indeed the times they are changing and I fear currently anyway, not for the better.

If my parents were alive today, they may argue that the 50's, 60's and 70's were equally if not more chaotic. Wars were being fought, the threat of nuclear annihilation, the struggle for civil rights was ongoing, women were being liberated, affirmative action was being introduced into the workplace and the hippie movement was exhibiting "free love". All of which at least in hindsight, seemed to be an effort to better society as a whole. But my parents may also argue that for the most part, citizens were still able to engage in civil discourse.

Recently the question of civility has been raised by the media as well as the current administration. What is civility and what happened to politely agreeing to disagree? Civility is the action of working together productively to reach a common goal, and often with beneficent purposes. Some definitions conflate civility with politeness, which suggests disengaging with others so as not to offend. Maybe we should practice a little more of that ..."disengaging", ...but then again how will I ever get in the last word if I just disengage?

At age 16, this country's first President had copied by hand 110 rules of civility, found here.

Although by today's standards many of these rules seem outdated, as the link suggests, "they are the small sacrifices that we should all be willing to make for the good of all and the sake of living together."

My parents refused to talk politics, even with their children. Today it's different. Today politics are on everyone's mind and being discussed everywhere. At the checkout stand, at the gas pump, in the workplace, at the ballgame and yes... online, most certainly online.

For some reason we all, including myself, feel more emboldened. We feel entitled to say whatever we're feeling without fear of consequence and we say it with little or no facts to guide us. We feel less apprehensive about hurting someone's feelings because that is the example we are now being shown. We are being told that everything we hear with which we don't agree, is "Fake News".

The fact that a comedian can be vilified in the press for insulting a public figure during a private function, which is essentially part of their job description, and then that very same public figure can go on national television and somehow defend a number of similar actions taken by her employer is beyond belief.

Social media has provided us some wonderful tools like the ability to share stories, news and pictures with relatives halfway across the world. Funny memes intended to brighten someone's day and video clips of bands we haven't thought about in years, and it's enabled some to rekindle romances left flickering since college.

But unfortunately, by allowing false statements, disinformation and conjecture to be spread world wide at breakneck speed, it's also caused friendships to end and has left some families less likely to exchange Christmas cards next season. By the way, I hope you noticed that I didn't "try to get rid of the word Christmas."

I realize I'm not going to convince anyone to see my point of view by being uncivil. In fact I'm not going to convince anyone to see my point of view by being civil either. Only through mutual respect and compassion will I have an opportunity to set an example and share my message.

But while it seems to be the current word d'jour, maybe we can all try a little harder to practice more "civility". After all, doesn't each of us truly want the same things, health, happiness, love, peace and the Mariners to finally win a World Series?



3 comments:

Anonymous,  July 2, 2018 at 2:36 AM  

The title "Enough Already" indicates you want the last word. Typical snowflake. Stomp feet. Demand people listen. Demand others conform to your opinion.
I don't see anything new here, that hasn't already been regurgitated every single day on the local news, NPR, CNN, etc.
Preaching civility with an heir of superiority doesn't work.
So "Enough Already" with all the noise coming from one side and maybe offer some consideration in offering just one day of silence from all the whining.

Anonymous,  July 3, 2018 at 11:26 AM  

Wow - Anon at 2:36 - Do you hit your spouse when they disagree? Do you think you should be able to?

Anonymous,  July 3, 2018 at 5:16 PM  

Perhaps the point of the column is not to express new and unique ideas, but to affirm and assure that there are people not employed by NPR, CNN, local news, etc. that are concerned that solutions to problems will be more difficult for everyone to find if we spend all our time name-calling.

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