I had a very interesting discussion yesterday with Junior, our housemate. He's only 21, but I think he has "an old soul."
Junior was lamenting the lack of civility and common decency displayed by his generation. (Yes, he actually referred to people his own age as "this generation.") He decided that just because we can put everything out there on Facebook or Twitter, doesn't mean we ought to. And just because we can comment or make [disparaging] remarks about someone's posts or photos or status updates, doesn't mean it's the smartest thing to do. Whatever happened to conversation? Whatever happened to kindness? This was refreshing to hear from a 21-year-old.
At first we thought it might be the internet that gives us this feeling of anonymity; it's a way to put our opinions out there without the responsibility of actually having a face-to-face conversation.
"I've said my piece, I don't have to listen to, or read, yours and that's the end of it. Ha! So there!"
But it isn't just the internet that gives people the idea that they have license to say whatever they want - there is this idea roaming around that words, beliefs and thoughts have no consequences.
"After all, I have the right to free speech, right? I have the right to believe whatever I want, right? And if my beliefs have no consequences, then my beliefs are correct, and therefore my beliefs are THE TRUTH. And if my beliefs are THE TRUTH, then everyone in the world should agree with me and abide by my truth."
It's a twisted logic, and it's dangerous.
At the dangerous end of the spectrum are the people who want to tell everyone else what to do, how to think, and how to live. They think their belief - their "truth" - is the only truth, and somehow God has given them the task of enforcing it. We all know who they are...the folks that picket funerals, the guys that shoot girls in the head because they dare to want an education, people that flip you off on the highway, or guys who want to make sure we all carry our birth certificates in order to use the proper restroom. It doesn't seem to occur to them that they might be wrong.
At the other end of the spectrum are those of us who shake our heads in disbelief and wonder, What on earth are they thinking?
So here's an idea: Let's have a civil conversation. With both parties actually listening to the other side. We don't have to agree on everything. In fact, we might just agree to disagree. We might learn something, or see an issue from a new angle. And we can even respect one another as people! Now there's an idea with consequences!
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."