Lance Scranton: Maybe civility isn’t dead
Maybe you read this column and agree that my particular brand of opinion is worth considering. Maybe you read one or two sentences and determine the author of such viewpoints is obviously some kind of ignoramus. Each of us is endowed with the responsibility to ask ourselves the important questions and listen for the answers. Maybe the reason I write what I think is true is because of the more permanent damage that never articulating what you think would do to our world.
Maybe it isn’t that I feel the need to be right but that the only way to a more peaceful world is to expose our thoughts to the light of day, then clearly (as best we can) explain a way toward such a reality.
A wise person once explained to me that, while a strong personality faces the slings and arrows of those who might disagree, imagine the potential danger of the person who believes resolutely in his or her correctness, but never subjects his or her thoughts to the harsh light of the critic.
The danger reveals itself in the magnificent illusion of our own correctness and the woeful disregard for the opinions and views of others that can help shed light on the chinks in our intellectual armor. People who believe themselves to be right but have little reason to try to persuade others find life increasingly frustrating.
This is the extreme self-centeredness that has led to the breakdown in our civil conversation.
Maybe you don’t know everything, or even as much as you thought you did, but how would you know if nobody knows what you think? Maybe it’s OK to have a discussion about climate change, even if we don’t agree, because it is a certainty of the process that we would both learn something about our views as they are subjected to conversational discourse.
Maybe the real solution to our current political chaos really does begin with each of us being able to speak to each other again and consider the thoughts and ideas of those with whom we don’t always agree. Maybe the mood of the country would be a better if we talked and spoke and wrote and accepted the fact that we can learn something from each other.
Maybe I’m wrong or misguided about some of my opinions and views and need to be called to task by people who know just as much, or more, than I do about the things I attempt to articulate each week. Maybe some lively written debate would help every one of us hone our particular line of reasoning and assist in a more informed view of the world.
Maybe we should all be tired of people wishing ill on those with whom they disagree. Maybe the tone and temperature of our disagreements should be matched equally by our willingness to listen and consider. Maybe people will realize that their opinions and thoughts are just as important as the next person’s. Maybe it’s OK that we disagree but not OK that we have learned to hate each other because of our differences. Maybe civility is retrievable.
Lance Scranton is a teacher and coach at Moffat County High School.