Civil Discourse in post-2016 Election world ~ part 2: Saying “nice” while taking bold & aggressive political action @ all levels of government

by faithgibson on November 30, 2016

Part 2 ~ A Moral Compass that always points True North

A. Trash Talking — tame your tongue and aim that energy into effective political activisim!

MonkeyLookCameraLens_09bThe bottom line is simple: Without question, all Americans enjoy and depend on our current, rather complex civilization for lights, running water, heat, food in the grocery store, gas in our cars, police, firefights, and most important of all — our personal wifi!

Our civilized way of life is ultimately built on and is maintained by the quality of its citizens. Whether we personally are a big or little fish, or even an influential politician ourselves, the rules of good citizenship preclude us from weaponizing our political speech.

Wise words about civility by Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Many readers will not be personally familiar with the influential Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn ((“Sole-jah^-neat-son), but his advice on effective political dissent is particularly pertinent today.

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Jailed suffragette in the early 20th century for participating in public marches

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn  (b. 1918 d. 2008) fought for Soviet Russia during World War II, but was later arrested for criticizing Joseph Stalin.  He was exiled to Russian labor camps or ‘gulags’ for 11 long but politically-enlightening years.

After being released, he became a formidable political dissident and wrote powerful novels that were extremely unflattering to the government of Soviet Russia. His most compelling and famous was The Gulag Archipelago, which recounted his experience as a political prisoner of the USSR.

In a lecture given in NYC in 1975, he said a number of things that are very pertinent in the wake of Donald Trump’s election.

Solzhenitsyn, 1975:

“The men who created your country never lost sight of their moral bearings. They did not laugh at the absolute nature of the concepts of ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Their practical politics were checked against that moral compass and how surprising it is that a practical policy computed on the basis of moral considerations turned out to be the most far-sighted and the most salutary”.

These truly ‘wise word’ were further distilled by a contemporary Russian Garry Kasparov (a former world champion chess player, current political refugee in the US, and author of: “Winter is Coming: Why Putin and the enemies of the free world must be stopped“) into this simple sentence:

“The most moral policy turns out to be the most effective political policy.”

Human beings have a natural duty to treat one another humanely and that excludes insults, name-calling and other forms of character assassination. Not only is this uncivilized behavior, but it is a personal sin — yes a sin, for which we need to ask forgiven and publicly pledge not to do it again. This is not so we’ll be “nice” but because sinking to the lowest level of human discourse is to ultimately sink the ship of state.

Naturally salacious ideas will continue to run through our minds, and many times roll off our lips in privacy of our home and the company of close friends. That’s OK, but we have no “right” to say such things in public. When (not if but when!) we slip up (and we all will), I personally recommend the old-fashioned idea of confessing our shortcomings to another person you trust. Sharing our intentions with another person is a reliable way to “keep us honest” and this issue is too important to waffle on it.

If the target of your intemperate speech is a well-known public figure (such as a president), send them/him a note of apology (or a tweet) and give them your word that you won’t do it again.

As good citizens who are interested in preserving our civilization, we have an obligation not to engage in public outbursts of uncivilized behavior of name-calling and other forms of character assassination. Civil society so needs our words and actions at the  “hold them accountable” end of the equation.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn would indeed agree that the best reason to do the right thing is because it is the right thing to do!


Lady Liberty_2009B. It’s our Duty to speak up, point out harmful behavior in the public arena, and work to correct it

After having tamed our tongues, we have to buck-up and become “activists”.

We have an absolute civic duty to speak up every time and in every place where we encounter oppressive government policies that are harmful to civil society and our democratic ideal and simple human decency.

It is a civic duty to be watchful and take appropriate actions (swearing at the TV or radio does NOT count!) whenever and wherever we see violations of our Constitution, Bill of Rights and our democratic institutions by treating or authorizing other to treat humans inhumanely or bringing shame on America as that “shining light on the hill” that makes so many people around the world look to us for hope.

The place for all that angst and political energy is to shine a floodlight on those in positions of responsibility who are harming civilization, our democratic way of life and human decency. Just remember to criticize the behavior, not the character of the individual.

UPDATE: Since my original post, the INDIVISIBLE movement to resist the Trump Agenda had become a major avenue for effective political “push back”. If you aren’t already familiar with it, here is the link to its guide for effective political activism:

Or you can cut & paste: https://www.indivisibleguide.com/

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