The Demise of Civility and Reason?
I am struggling to write this article. Not because I don’t have anything to say. I actually have a lot to say.
Rather, I am struggling because I am not sure whether to make my thoughts public or just keep them to myself. I spoke to my wife about this and she advised that I do what my lawyer once advised me.
I had been slandered by a person who accused me of mis investing my churches’ money and costing them a few thousand dollars. He also claimed that he had to personally resolve the situation. Both of these things were not true.
I wanted to sue him. My lawyer told me that was a tough slough and suggested I write my feelings, send it to him, and then forget about it.
So that is sort of what I am doing here.
I will at least write my feelings and thoughts and then decide whether to share them with others. If you are reading this you know that my decision was to go public.
What is bothering me is what I see too much incivility around me. It is bad enough to see it happening to others, but I have had a number of recent experiences that hit much closer to home.
In the recent past I have been mocked for writing and publishing two books, accused of having white supremacist leanings, and being insensitive to people with autism. There have been other personal attacks but these three things stick out in my mind and what are bothering me the most.
All of these accusations have come from people I do not know.
They stem from comments I made about posts on social media or from some contact I had with them.
The book thing came out of nowhere. A person read one of comments which had nothing to do with writing or publishing. He decided to be funny and asked if I was writing about alfalfa. No, I am not kidding. That was his witty comment. I asked him what he was talking about and got the same response. It was interesting because he portrayed himself as a deep thinker. I guess that is what goes as deep thought these days.
Why you would make fun of someone’s writing and publishing two books is beyond me. But he did for whatever reason. And it was not connected to the books, but my answer to a post by someone.
The second was in response to a post about black conservative individuals. I wrote that I am seeing and hearing more about young blacks not accepting the same old promises, but challenging who is really looking out for their best interests.
I was challenged about what I was saying and that I had no right to comment because I come from privilege. I wrote back in response that my great grandfather came from Germany in the late 1800s. He was a carpenter and changed the family name during World War I to avoid discrimination.
I then said that I do not have priveledge of any kind. My sister was the first in my family to graduate college and I was the second. We grew up middle class and while not wanting for anything, we were certainly not priveledged.
The person then said that he had seen this type of argument on White Supremacist websites so I was just spouting their line and therefore must be one. Never having seen such a site or dealt with that type of person, I found it interesting that he made such a leap.
I follow what Dr. Martin Luther King said. “We should judge a man not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character”. Won’t find that on any Supremacist sites I am pretty certain.
The last one bothers me the most. I was helping an individual to get a resume packet together. He had not worked in 5 years and was bitter towards his former employer. It showed in his wordings, which I changed to deal with positives and to push his accomplishments. He wasn’t happy that I made changes to his work, but he accepted them. But it really bothered him.
Then, out of nowhere he said that he has autism and that I had been insensitive to him and needed sensitivity training. This was interesting because I had no idea he had that disability and I had treated him like my own daughter who I had just helped with a similar endeavor.
What makes it more interesting is that my wife I and raised a son with autism. We had a terrible time with his school in his high school years and went to State and then Federal court about it. We won a discrimination suit to get him additional education. So, I lived with someone close to me with autism and yet was insensitive to it. Astounding.
I have done a number of business podcasts in the past year.
The latest one dealt with what I see in both business and the world around me. The host asked if there was one thing I would fix, what would it be.
I said it was the incivility and lack of consideration in the country today. People are no longer disagreeing based on facts, but on raw emotion and illogic. There is little rational debate. Rather it has evolved into name calling and personal attacks, much of what I described here concerning myself and these three instances.
People have a point of view which is basically a talking point. After stating the point, there is no depth to what they are espousing. So, they either keep repeating the same point or they turn to personal destruction. The call others racists, homophobes, supremacists, or whatever the popular slur of the day is.
There is really no debate. Perspectives are not discussed and respected. It is I am right, you are wrong and if you do not agree with me, I will label you something vile, even though I do not know you or anything about you.
When I am faced with that I block the person from further communication with me. That doesn’t mean that they will not continue to write further untruths about me, it is just that I don’t see it unless it is second handed.
But it is the fact that this has become so prevalent in dealing with others. That this happens, is allowed, and in certain quarters cheered on and encouraged shows we are not evolving as a people but are devolving. The end result is a separation of people and in more and more cases violence which is both tolerated and encouraged.
I pray this at some point this stops.
But I am afraid it will only get worse. I for one will not tolerate it. I see this as the nonsense I saw growing up in third and fourth grades when we called each other names. I thought we grew out of it, but I now see it with so called adults. Acting like a third or fourth grader is not evolution. It is acceptance that what we did as children is acceptable as adult behavior.
It is my hope that if this is indeed published that you who are reading it agree that this has to stop. If not, I do not see a happy ending here. My time on earth will not last forever. I do not want to see my children and grandchildren have to deal with this nonsense. But, I am afraid that they will. Hopefully they will not fall into becoming like these people that I have dealt with.
So where do I go from here?
Well for starters I got all of this off of my chest. I think in all situations like this, that is the first step. But now what?
Well, I have to now let these things go. To dwell on what people who know nothing about me and pass judgements about me that are totally wrong should not continue to bother me. They certainly are not important in my life. They weren’t before and they certainly aren’t now.
They have most likely already moved on, passing their judgements on others they know nothing about. I am sure they don’t give me a second thought. So why should I give any to them? They were a minor annoyance but nothing they have said has had an impact of any kind on me except to irritate me.
They won’t be the last ones to do that. The world is unfortunately full of people like that. They want to criticize others while being unhappy with themselves.. They have nothing positive to say so they make themselves feel a bit better by telling others what is wrong with them, even when they are 100% incorrect about what they are saying.
So I will move on. I make a pledge to not give these three any more of my time and thought. I will focus only on the positive people I deal with.
If you run into similar circumstances I hope you will do the same. There is too much good in life to listen to the naysayers and the critics. Especially those who do not know you nor do they care to.
Always remember, “Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter H. Christian was a founding partner and president of espi, a business consulting firm in Northeastern PA. Previously he was an Executive at Crayola Corporation. He has worked with 300+ clients in business development, profit improvement, operations, IS selection and implementation, and Project Management. He has 40+ years of experience in strategic and facility planning, CI, lean, and supply chain. He has helped companies to realize millions of dollars in cost reductions and profit improvements adding and retaining thousands of jobs. He has authored the Amazon bestselling business books, “What About the Vermin Problem?” and “Influences and Influencers” (4 out of 4 star review on Online Bookclub) and is published in a variety of professional magazines. He is most appreciative of Dr. Rodney Ridley and Donald Schalk of the O’Pake Institute, Alvernia University for their support in allowing him to teach this important course.