This morning, I stumbled upon the Goodbye Obama 2012 Facebook page, after a friend commented on one of their posts. I visited the page, knowing well the level of vitriol it would contain, but wishing that my seeing it would somehow make it go away.
The content of the GO12 posts and follow-up comments was upsetting to me not because I disagree with their opinions about their own candidate, Mitt Romney, or because I feel they shouldn’t have a say in who becomes the 44th president. They should. They will. But why does that choice require buckets and buckets of hate to go along with it?
I do not care that President Obama is black. I think that’s a poor reason to vote for him, and I felt the same back in ’08. So this isn’t a race thing – this frustration with hate – it’s just an I-hate-hate thing.
I understand it’s not always healthy to bottle things up, and I understand the draw of responding to vulgarity and anger with the same. I’m sure many of the GO12 commenters have seen the exact same hateful jokes, photographs and slurs flung from the blue side of the fence. But I just really want someone to be the bigger person.
It makes me wonder if President Obama and Governor Romney are proud to see their citizens tearing each other apart, making the person next to them feel less intelligent – like less of a human being, undeserving of a voice in our democracy – because they disagree on who should run our country. These two men disagree on many things themselves, but not everything. And they may be so far afield from each other in certain opinions that they can’t comprehend the other’s stance, and they may find themselves disrespecting that position. But they are politicians. They are playing a game. The future of the nation is at stake and they fully understand that. But politics is something they’ve trained for, something they’ve spent years perfecting.
We as everyday humans are not as resilient as politicians. The hate speech and degradation do not fade simply because four years have passed and one side has been allowed to sit smugly on their throne. It festers beneath the surface, it breeds further contempt and mistrust, it pulls apart families, makes people flee to foreign lands, breeds disrespect and inspires mockery in the rest of the world. How much stronger would our country be if we could stand together on the sensible things?
I do not identify myself as a Democrat or a Republican. And there are many (MANY) issues I don’t know nearly enough about to make solid decisions one way or another. But there are certain things that just feel RIGHT (and, obviously, things that feel wrong) that I don’t understand why we can’t agree on. Renewable energy is one. Let’s set aside our corporate alliances and think about this a moment. Let’s even set aside the potential consequences of practices like hydraulic fracturing on our health, our communities and our landscape. Nothing’s been proven yet, so fine – let’s ignore it. But we will eventually reach our limits with these options. Eventually there will be no more natural gas, no more oil, no more coal – then what? We will not have invested time, energy or money into figuring out how to harness the giant ball of flaming gas that we’ve created even more atmospheric holes for, and that’s likely growing hotter and more dangerous by the day. We haven’t figured out how to direct the winds that blow so hard in many parts of the world. And we haven’t considered the implications of not developing a worldwide strategy for keeping energy use down and doing all we can to improve the world around us, rather than tearing it down.
Things like that just blow my mind. If we don’t invest in renewable energy, how will we ever know if what we know is all there is? What if there’s something else that would allow the workers currently relying on the natural gas, coal and oil industries for their livelihood to keep their jobs and not require additional training only some of them will be able to handle? What if there’s something even easier, cleaner and cheaper than solar, wind and water?
My boss and I were talking recently about taking care of the planet, how sometimes we feel like we’re among the very few who worry about the future of plants, animals and the human race. But he made an interesting point I hadn’t thought about: Even if we end up taking a few hundred species with us, he said, we’re only killing ourselves. Once we’re gone, the Earth will heal itself. It may not look anything like what it does now, but it is likely to return to whatever thriving state it can once all men are gone and it’s allowed to be itself again, naturally.
I think about the state of our world today and try to compare it to the world when I was younger. It’s challenging, because I’m not very old yet and I can’t even really remember the world of the 1990s. But it didn’t seem so bad then. It didn’t seem like issues like renewable energy and who should be our president were as much a pissing contest as they are today. They felt more serious then. They didn’t feed on the side of humanity that enjoys hiding behind Facebook to slip in attacks and belittle peers and (former) friends. They were adult matters for adults to ponder, understand and decide. And while younger people should get interested and take part (please take part!) I feel like those pages and pages of hate-filled comments are NOT the young people that once dominated social media. They are the adults who choose to be spiteful cowards, not to act like adults, be civil and make their points and their decisions in mature, respectable ways.
I guess my point here is: Someday, we’re going to kill our civilization (or the world as know it). Someday, we’re going to wipe ourselves out, whether it’s under the watch of a Republican or a Democrat. In the meantime, I’d rather like to enjoy the world, my country and my fellow citizens, rather than feeling like we’re always balancing on the edge of exchanging blows. I’d also like for us to consider the implications of our actions. And to try to save the polar bears. And to consider those who make less than $18,000 a year to support a family of four. And to really – REALLY – think about how we’re going to make sure we survive the next four years, along with the next four hundred.