Can we all get along?
There’s nothing to indicate Rodney King wanted to become a celebrity, any more than he wanted to be beaten by Los Angeles police in an incident that became a national news story in 1991.
When the four policemen involved were acquitted in a criminal trial (two would later be sentenced to prison for civil rights violations), it touched off a firestorm of outrage that led to riots and another moment when our country had to face the race issue.
But this isn’t a column about race, it’s another piece about the “Age of Angst” and the growing lack of civility in American society. Rodney King came to mind because of the simple-yet-profound statement he made, while trying to calm the vitriol that followed the 1991 criminal trial.
Can we all get along?
Over the years, as our society’s general mood has become more cynical and jaundiced, King’s five-word plea has become fodder for sarcasm.
Still, if we’re going to restore a mood of civility in the public forum and in our private lives, Can we all get along? is a fundamental question. Learning to get along on a person-to-person level — showing civility to one another — is how civilized societies came to be.
A couple years ago, I discovered a book called Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct. It was a paperback I found in the “Politics” section of a bookstore, where it seemed totally out of place among the seething, in-your-face political writings of conservatives like Beck, Coulter and Michael Savage, and liberals like Huffington, Olberman and — ohmygawd — Ronald Reagan Jr.
Choosing Civility was written in 2002 by Dr. P.M. Forni, a literature professor at Johns Hopkins University. Forni has become a crusader for returning civility to American society, and in 2009 he released a follow-up book called The Civility Solution.
Although I’m just as guilty of being sharp-tongued (or sharp-penned) as the next person, I share Forni’s belief that reestablishing civility is a great way for a great people to revive their eroding greatness.
Learning to get along is basic and it’s something we should embrace, not belittle.
See, getting along and being civil with one another at the individual and public forum levels, doesn’t mean you don’t have strong beliefs and convictions; doesn’t mean you shouldn’t defend a position; doesn’t mean you’re a meek, mindless sheep.
But what I find increasingly distressful is so many people in the public forum don’t want to just debate a subject or offer a conflicting opinion; they want to inflict a wound.
What bothers me about the media pundits is few of them can make a point without twisting the knife. The intent is to crush, not discuss.
Still, what goes on in the public forum is nothing more than a reflection of what’s going on in private lives. When individuals can’t engage in civil discourse at a person-to-person level, without resorting to being snide, sarcastic, belittling and profane, why should we expect civility on TV and radio talk shows, in print or in the political arena?
And certainly, the anonymity of the Internet has opened whole new avenues for “dissing” one another, allowing people to become uncivil hit-and-run artists.
Somewhere along the way, a growing number of Americans seem to have given up on the notion of respecting other people’s opinions; speaking kindly to one another, even though we may disagree on the topic; and considering that our opinion or our interpretation of a situation might be, gulp, wrong.
If you placed modern American society on a psychiatrist’s couch, the growing trend toward disrespect and incivility would be diagnosed as a lack of self-confidence at best, neurotic insecurity at worst.
Or maybe we’re just “dumbing-up” so much as individuals and as a society that we’re losing the self-discipline and intellect it takes to “get along.”
Whichever it is, where is the road of incivility taking us? Where does it end? And how do we get off it?
Can we all get along?
Time to take the “B” out of the “Three R’s”
Our young folks are hitting the stretch drive toward the end of another school year, during which they’ve been taught “Three R’s”, which are not really “r’s” at all.
In case you missed it, reading is the only one of the “Three R’s” that actually begins with the letter “r.” Writing starts with a “w” and arithmetic begins with the letter “a.” There are two reasons we drop the “w” from “writing” and the “a” from “arithmetic”: 1. For poetic flow in the age-old saying; and, 2. many people have a secret yen to talk like the Beverly Hillbillies.
Thank you for lettin’ me be myself again
Friends and neighbors, hope I don’t sound like the biggest egomaniac since Donald Trump, but you know, I am the most interesting person I’ve ever known.
Forgive me if — on first blush — that sounds like the most totally self-aggrandizing statement you’ve ever heard. And if you’ve headed to the restroom to express an editorial opinion about the statement above, I’ll stop for a couple minutes.
Buzz misfired in Vanity Fair body slam of Duncan
As the new kid in town, I’m reluctant to leap atop the ramparts to defend the honor of Duncan, Okla., my new adopted hometown.
But to heck with that. When an out-of-towner comes into your house and soils your rug, it’s on.
I speak, of course, about the article in Vanity Fair magazine about Duncan and the killing last year of Chris Lane, the Australian who was gunned down in August.
Boys can still be boys
You know, the past was seldom as blissful as viewing it through the eyewear of nostalgia makes us believe.
That said, though, I do believe being a young boy in the 1950s and ‘60s — and probably further back than that — was more fun than it is today.
Local film festival deserves applause
A highlight of the January calendar will take center stage Jan. 24 and Jan. 25 when the Trail Dance Film Festival showcases up-and-coming filmmakers and their work.
Nearly 100 features will be shown on screens at the L.B. and Ola Simmons Community Activities Center and the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center.
Fair & Expo work a sound decision
The alarm seems positive. Duncan’s Stephens County Fair & Expo Center, host to a full schedule of activities year round as one of the state’s most active and successful agri-tourism facilities, appears to be a victim of its own success.
Companies don’t pay taxes, consumers pay their taxes
It goes without saying that Oklahoma as a state is very dependent on the energy sector. The oil and gas business provides thousands of jobs across the state. There is a great deal of drilling and exploration in Oklahoma. Part of the reason is because the state legislature lowered the tax on horizontal drilling to one percent from seven percent to encourage more drilling in the state. The reduction is set to expire in July 2015.
Oklahoma State Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon, (R-Lawton) has announced that he will introduce legislation in the upcoming session to make the one percent tax permanent in order to continue to encourage drilling.
PPCA — 6 Million registrants and counting
While the rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Car Act had its problems with both the framing of the ACT, and ongoing daily, weekly opposition to it by a segment of our elected officials and citizens, it is an established law. As with Massachusetts’ healthcare law, the ACA is gaining wider participation each day.
An example of this was the participation at the healthcare.gov web site from a few thousand on October 1, 2013 to 2 plus Million on Monday, December 23, 2013.
6 Million Citizens have obtained healthcare coverage through state or federal insurance marketplaces (exchanges) and Medicaid Expansion since the beginning of sign-ups on October 1, 2013. Of this number, 2.1 Million have obtained private health insurance through the marketplaces while 3.9 plus Million have been found eligible for Medicaid. If
Republican Governors and Legislators in half of the United States had expanded their Medicaid programs, that 3.9 Million figure would now total 8.7 Million insured Americans.
Obsessed parents can turn ‘Dream’ into nightmare
When it comes to youngsters being interested in athletics, “The Dream” can be a good thing — a motivation, a driving force for excellence and achievement.
But when parents become consumed by turning their child’s dream into their own, “The Dream” can turn into “The Nightmare.”
Here’s a true story.
Dorman a likely candidate
Joe Dorman, who for the past 11 years has represented District 65 of the Oklahoma House of Representatives that includes the northernmost tip of Stephens County, is serious about seeking the governor’s job.
He knows running against an incumbent is a challenge.
He realizes a lot of money must be raised to conduct a reputable campaign.
He understands a strong economy might prompt many to assume all is well in the Sooner state.
- More Opinion Headlines
- Time to take the “B” out of the “Three R’s”