Civilized Human Dignity
For us here at Freedom of Speech democracy is a question of human dignity. And human dignity is political freedom; the right to freely express opinion and the right to be allowed to criticize and form opinions.
I just read today's posting on FOS; Our Thoughts...On This Sunday Morning, and I felt the need to respond to a few of their comments. Since one can't comment at that site, I have to do it on my own.
The best defense for the public good is aggressiveness, the aggressiveness of the involved citizen
While I agree with the basic premise that one has the right as well as the responsiblity in a democracy to express one's view on given issues, I question the idea that doing so aggressively is dignified in any way.
I think we all agree that words have power and if so we could also agree that misuse of words can be an abuse of power. So let's go to the dictionary and see what they mean.
Agress-to attack; to start a quarrel
Aggression-the practice or habit of being aggressive or quarrelsome
Aggressive-inclined to starting fights or quarrels
Civilize-to come out of a primitive or savage condition and into a state of civilization;to improve in habits or manners; to refine
Criticize-to analyze and judge as a critic; to judge disapprovingly; find fault
Dignity-the quality of being worthy of esteem; worthiness
Human or in this usage, Humane-having what are considered the best qualities of mankind; rational, sympathetic, civilized
Responsible-answerable; accountable; to think and act rationally, and hence accountable for one's behavior, actions, speech
So now we conclude that to be aggressive in matters of civil discussion is only to spoil for a fight. It results in nothing remotely reminiscent of civility nor human dignity.
Is there a time or place for aggressive action? Most certainly, when one's person or property or that of another is threatened with physical harm, aggressive action is a legitimate course of action. But in terms of attempting to create unity in a community, I find it not only harsh but counterproductive as well!
There is a term that I prefer to use that I find to be just as effective without being so inciteful/hateful!
Assertive-characterized by assertion; positive or confident in a persistent way
Assert-to state positivly; declare; affirm; to maintain or defend; to insist on one's rights or on being recognized
As a professional CDL holder, I like to believe that I am an assertive driver as opposed to an aggressive driver. Although it is a subtle distinction as veiwed by the compact car riding in my blindspot, it does in fact result in the little four wheeler still being able to roll on after I have changed lanes. Bear with me while I explain.
The aggressive driver may or may not signal his/her intention to initiate a lane change and more often than not will do so without looking to see what else is in close proximity. Anyone who drives in rush hour knows exactly what I'm referring to. The only concious thought in that person's skull is to hit the ramp for the timeclock has already clicked past start time. He/she feels that they have every right to that exit at that instant and it's the responsibility of the rest of us to not get in the way. (Yeah! A pet peeve of mine!!)
On the other hand, the assertive driver will plan his/her move and signal intent with enough warning to alert those around them. I'll ride in the center lane until I clear the exit just prior to the one I want. I will then signal my intent, wait a few car lengths, and then start crowding the other lane ever so slightly all the while watching for the reaction of the vechicles in that lane. In most cases the intimidation of a 70 foot rig will cause them to either speed up to get ahead of me or back off and let me slide over. In the event neither happens I am prepared to abort the move and find an alternate path.
Another example of this same sort of assertiveness was Dale Earnhardt, Sr. He made an art form of crowding his opponents to the point they would give way and he did it successfully without causing them to wreck more often than anyone in the history of motorsports. It earned him the respect of all who competed with him as well as the nickname of The Intimidator.
How does all that apply to our original thought? Only this. I agree that open discussion of issues is a must in our society. We all have concerns for our individual as well as collective futures. How are we going to pay for it? Who can we trust? What's to be gained or lost? How do we best protect our interests? All valid questions that demand honest answers.
To acquire those honest answers, we must by all means be assertive, diligent and responsible in asking the questions! However, when we turn assertiveness into outright aggression, when we fail to see the message due to fear of or hate for the messenger, when we can no longer be reasonably polite and civil in our discourse, the enemy has won and we are lost!
Question the actions or lack thereof at will and do so with passion! But take care not to throw the baby out with the bathwater in attacking personalities. It serves no constructive purpose save to insure that the way things are is the way things will remain. And that, freinds and neighbors, is exactly what those who are the hinderance to progress are counting on.
Are we going to let them watch us beat ourselves and chuckle while we do it?,