Sunday, November 01, 2015

We live in a world of disrespect. (David Gerrold)

(A post from David Gerrold's facebook page. 2015-11-01)

We live in a world of disrespect.
And the reason we live in a world of disrespect is because we have allowed disrespect to leach away the essential empathy that is at the heart of any successful community.
We've turned ourselves into a national Gong show -- where we sit as self-appointed judges, one hand on the mallet, disparaging instead of encouraging, laughing at instead of laughing with.
We've done it by polarizing ourselves -- we've moved from "we're all in this together" to "things would be a lot better if they weren't here." We've learned how to admire cheaters, frauds, thieves, and charlatans while doubting the motives of the thoughtful, the honest, the concerned, and the committed.
We've done it to ourselves -- we've done it by tolerating the intolerance of others. Worse, we've allowed the intolerant to dominate the discussion. We've allowed the attention whores to capture the headlines, while those who are simply doing their job to keep the machinery running get trampled under in the stampede of ignorance.
We've done it by arguing over the parsley while forgetting the meat and potatoes. We've done it by resigning ourselves to the scraps we can grab from the table of life.
Change is possible. But there's a cartoon I've seen online more than once. The speaker asks the crowd, "Who wants change?" Everybody raises their hand. Second panel, he asks, ""Who wants to change?" Nobody raises their hand.
If we want to believe we are the good guys, then we have to define what good guys do -- and set that as our standard. And we have to live up to our standards before we can demand that anyone else live up to them.
Good guys don't hurt other people. Good guys help others to succeed. Good guys aren't selfish, they're generous. Good guys think success should be shared. Good guys want children to grow up in good homes, with good educations. Good guys want a world that works for all of us, with no one left out. Good guys measure their behavior against their goals and watch out for consequences. Good guys make a difference. Good guys leave the world a better place for their having passed through it.
Good guys respect others -- whether they deserve it or not. Good guys set the example. Good guys set the standard.
Right now -- scanning through the news feed on Facebook or Huffpost or half a dozen other sites and I want to stop the world and ask, "What the fuck is wrong with you people?" Not just some presidential candidates, although they're they most obvious, but the haters who make comment threads as unpleasant as bobbing for lumps in a cesspool.
Every moment of every day, we are given opportunities, possibilities -- choices. The choices we make are the impact we have in the world and the consequences that follow from that impact. I think the most important and challenging choice in front of us is whether we will respect the people around us and how we will treat them -- regardless of our judgments, regardless of our opinion on whether or not they deserve it.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Because so far, it works for me.
(David Gerrold)

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