Tuesday, May 23

Unacceptable Behavior: We Should Be Better Than This

A leader of the California Democratic Party tried to lead a chant that verbally flips off the president of the United States. A man was removed from a United flight for reasons other than wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat but it's likely the response of "Lock him up!" was prompted by the hat. Students at Notre Dame walked out of the commencement speech by Vice President Pence apparently because they don't like his politics.

Let me start with that last one. There was a young woman interviewed about the walkout. She was articulate with great presence, but what she said was disingenuous, though I've no doubt she fervently believes in her words. Some of the students interviewed walked out because of what--and who--Mike Pence represents. They believed he would offer them nothing worthwhile in his commencement address. Of course, they didn't stay to hear it which makes it hard to have a conversation about it.

As for the young woman, she walked out--and I paraphrase what I heard of her interview--because Mike Pence doesn't represent all of Notre Dame and that whoever speaks at commencement should represent the Notre Dame community. Huh. Well, that will be tough. And I've a sneaking suspicion that she would be fuming and clearly articulating her outrage if a speaker with whom she agreed prompted the same walkout behavior by some of her classmates.

I'm a fan of supporting free speech, but I am NOT a fan of supporting speech and actions that seem to step perilously close to hate speech. A walkout is an expression and those students were welcome to walkout but I hope that some of the Notre Dame education helps them understand that such issues are complex and there are multiple perspectives, all of which cannot be honored at one time. Someone is going to be unhappy at a commencement speech. I appreciate wanting to make a stand, but make sure the stand is defensible.

As for the apparently always-contrary John Burton of the California Democratic Party, he seems to have a reputation for being foul-mouthed. Nice. I think it's so wonderful when a state government leader demonstrates such behavior and language, especially if there's a possibility that students are trying to learn more about local government by following such proceedings.

The folks on the plane seemed to have a legitimate reason for being torqued at the passenger who was so disruptive he delayed the flight for hours because he was angry he didn't get an upgrade. He didn't get an upgrade? What the heck? Pouting and being disruptive enough to force the crew to deplane other passengers so he could be removed is appalling behavior for an adult. I've seen tired and cranky toddlers behave better.

These are only a few recent incidents of appalling unacceptable behavior that has managed to make the news. I can only imagine how many have not been caught on a phone video and shared with the world. Let me rephrase: I shudder to imagine.

People. Get a grip. Yes, our world is in turmoil. Everyone seems to be belligerent about something, whether a Republican, Democrat, or Independent. Because 45 himself is often bellicose, contrary, and just downright difficult, far too many people seem to think that gives everyone permission to behave badly.

We wonder why everyone seems meaner, nastier, less kind, crankier, ruder, more disrespectful. Really? Take a look at the news and how we treat each other. Both sides, all sides. The liberal and conservative media and every outlet in between works too bloody hard to find some sort of gotcha for the day. Puts all on edge. Makes us all behave embarrassingly badly.

We need to rise above this.

We need to recover our civility.

We need to dig deep to hope that we can be better and that because we can be better, our world can be better.

We need to rise up above the political fray and learn to listen, but also learn to have a conversation rather than have rage-fueled, spittle-littered shouting matches.

We need to rise up.

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