On the EDge: Can we ever find unity again?

OPINION – I don’t know that I like where we are as a country these days, the reason being that the things that separate us are, at times, ridiculous yet the separation becomes deeper.

Last week I did a column on how I thought a couple of guys who had participated in an act of civil disobedience should receive a minimum sentence and be forced to pay for any damages that occurred when they rode their ATVs through Restoration Canyon.

READ MORE: On the EDge: Recapture Canyon ATV protesters should receive minimum sentence

The results of that column?

Bizarre. Disappointing. Sad.

Particularly from the side of the political fence where I reside.

There were some who agreed that the guarantees of the First Amendment should cover all, regardless of political persuasion.

There were others, however, who looked at this situation as an opportunity for a little payback, talking, basically, about how these grinning, idiotic, rednecks should have the book thrown at them.

Sorry, folks, but grinning, idiotic, rednecks are entitled to the same rights as grinning, idiotic, hippies. It’s how we’re supposed to roll in the United States.

Do I agree with the position these guys were trying to put forth?

No, not even close.

The reasons why are unimportant in this context. What is important, though, is a deeply rooted belief that we all have a voice and that we all have a right to use it, whether we are in the majority or the minority, without fear or favor.

Unfortunately, things have degenerated to such a state of discord that barely a civil word passes between the two sides.

And, that’s what is so distressing.

Who is to blame for all of this?

We are all guilty in varying degrees, some a little guiltier than others, of course. On both sides.

But, how many are willing to admit that?

The displeasure manifests itself to a certain extent in the leanings of many toward alternatives. The liberals are sort of rallying behind Bernie Sanders, the uber-liberal, independent senator from Vermont who announced his intention to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination. The heavy conservatives are turning their attention to the Tea Party, which means that dividing line between conservative and liberal is widening. Even moderate Democrats and Republicans are part of this ugly polarization.

We can complain and try to shift the blame on the layabouts who run Congress, but remember who put them there.

While their behavior is atrocious – we are 18 months away from the next Presidential election and they are already at each other’s throats – we perpetuate this travesty by following suit and automatically kicking in with name-calling and unforgiving behavior.

As I have mentioned in the past, there have been conservatives throughout history that I have held in high regard as statesmen and leaders. It doesn’t mean I had to compromise my beliefs, it just means I saw them as people of integrity and conviction who could address an issue with their own ideological zeal while still holding their positional adversaries in regard.

Same with the liberal wing, of course.

But these days?

Man, it just doesn’t happen very often and when it does, it is reviled as a sign of weakness.

It’s all too easy to toss a net over the whole bunch and say, “Throw ‘em all out.”

First of all, I don’t know if it would solve the deep-seated problems we now suffer and, most importantly, it simply won’t happen. We are so stuck on our own little political planets that we will continue to make the same mistakes. Meanwhile, too many men and women of integrity and hearts desiring to serve do not wish to be sullied by the stain of modern-day politics. So, they work in other directions to right the wrongs and try to level a playing field that is akimbo. I know I wouldn’t want to be a part of this mess.

I believe in fairness, which means that I believe that we should all have our moment on the soapbox, that we should get an honest hearing, that we should not be shouted down or derided simply because of our political persuasion.

The only solution I can come up with at this time is to stow those feelings and reactions that divide us so and learn how to talk to each other rather than at each other and to listen to what the other side has to say.

Most importantly, we need to drop the inherent dislike that has defined our politics for so long.

Our wounds are self-inflicted.

Yes, we have had some lousy role models all the way around.

Yes, we continue to live in rather tough times and we are all concerned for our own welfare.

And, yes, we are so very afraid of where we are headed.

But, we’re never going to go anywhere that doesn’t dead end until we learn to navigate that road together and realize that sometimes we need to turn left and other times we need to turn right.

I’m not happy, and you shouldn’t be either.

But, perhaps if we started engaging in intelligent, thoughtful discussion rather than slamming each other, we could accomplish some of this.

I catch a lot of flak at times for my opinions, which is fine. I can take it, because I know that what I am trying to offer is a different perspective, perhaps one you’ve never considered.

I know darned well that I am not going to sway an election or cause a massive defection from the right to the left, but I do hope I offer something to ponder. Whether you agree or not is up to you, and I respect that and honor that.

This isn’t one of those “Can’t we all get along” type of pleas. I know that is impossible and impractical, to be honest.

But it is a plea for civility, stepping back, taking a breath, and considering what somebody else has to say.

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Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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  • fun bag May 12, 2015 at 11:59 am

    “Obama is a muslim, socialist, communist, that was born in Kenya”… how do we have a civilized debate with someone who believes these sort of things? Anyways, I think politics has always been this dirty, and I’m prepared for another 8 years of crying and whining from the neo-cons after Hilary becomes president…

    • Brian May 12, 2015 at 1:01 pm

      Let’s see, “they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion”, “the cops acted stupidly”, “act like a typical white person”. You’re right, ~politics~ has always been this dirty. But it was always politician against politician. What The Great Divider has done is turn American’s against each other, and very effectively. They want division, because its very profitably. He meets with al sharpton in the white house all the time, but refuses to meet with congressmen and senators. That should tell you something. But no, I don’t think we ever get back to the good old days. The problem is this nation was built on principles and responsibility, but now it’s built on sound bites and ulterior motives. Hey Fun Bag, go back and compare my posts to yours. See who’s just trying to get in zingers and denigrate the other side, and who’s trying to discuss underlying principles. But you’re right, it’s almost impossible to have a civilized debate anymore.

      • fun bag May 12, 2015 at 1:35 pm

        well, the last time i watched a “news” source like Foxnews it was just an endless stream of lies and deceit, and it’s difficult to have constructive discussion when so many folks use these sources as factual when they’re outright lies. The D-party is far from perfect, but they are far and away the lesser evil of the two parties, and in the end politics is the only real way to change… keep in mind i’m mostly here for entertainment…

      • Chris May 13, 2015 at 9:42 am

        “trying to get in zingers and denigrate the other side”
        That describes you, Brian, to a tee. In this very post, you use “the Great Divider” as a zinger. If you consider yourself one who prefers to “discuss underlying principles”, you are an amazing hypocrite. There is very little respectful or civilized in anything you post at this site.

        • fun bag May 13, 2015 at 10:17 am

          not always, ive seen brian be reasonable at times

  • sagemoon May 12, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    Nice article, Ed. For myself, I didn’t want to settle. My happy medium is the Libertarian party but I am willing to vote for whichever candidate best reflects my values. I do wish more people would actually take a close look at all parties available, read their platforms and get to know their candidates instead of just voting for the party/candidates their family and friends say they should vote for. Sticking with tradition can be a dangerous mindset politically. You sound like a guy who didn’t decide to call himself liberal on a whim. I wish others would really explore their political values. I think a lot of people would be surprised if they did.

    • fun bag May 12, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      in the current system 3rd party candidates are almost always a lost cause …just sayin’

      • Brian May 12, 2015 at 2:03 pm

        3rd party candidates are only a lost cost because of the belief that 3rd party candidates are a lost cause. The only wasted vote is the one you cast while you hold your nose, because even if your candidate wins, everyone loses. An informed vote that is cast based on principles is never wasted, even if your candidate loses. Sending losers to DC is a losing strategy, regardless of the letter after their name.

        • fun bag May 13, 2015 at 10:18 am

          a vote means nothing if you don’t get your guy in there,,, a vote on principal is wasted

          • Brian May 13, 2015 at 1:51 pm

            The problem is, if “your guy” has no principles and is just saying what he needs to say to get elected, you’re hosed if he gets in. I’d rather vote for someone deeply rooted in principles and lose the election than vote for a smooth talking politician that’s just pandering to today’s public opinion and “win” the election only to lose the country. Principles before party or politics, always.

          • fun bag May 13, 2015 at 3:12 pm

            oh please Bri, you sound like a naive little kid. I’m sure you voted in the Bush II crew in twice. Look how well that worked out.

        • sagemoon May 13, 2015 at 10:29 am

          Agreed, Brian. Be true to yourself.

  • NotSoFast May 12, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Interesting article Ed. Disingenuous but interesting.
    I wont go into details on how I view your tongue in cheek “can’t we all just get along” BS might sit with your column readers, but if your really sincere, try climbing out of the gutter on the left and hope into right gutter once in a while. That is, if your editor will allow you to.

  • BIG GUY May 12, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    A very civil and thoughtful column from a civil and thoughtful writer. Sadly, civility is often lacking in comments that appear on this website. Let’s hope your suggestion is heeded by all.

    • Bender May 14, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      Someone call the Internet Police, BIG GUY’s account has been h4x0red.

  • eddantes56 May 12, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Obama says we must “Fundamentally transform America”; the first Lady says that the first time she was proud of her country was when her husband was nominated to represent the Dems in the presidential race. Prof Grundy from Boston U. just said the other day that “white males in college” are the problem. Dan Savage “savaged” Rick Santorum and ran an internet campaign to get Santorum’s last name associated with a vile substance. Sarah Palin is called a C-word and there are websites that herald “Sarah Palin’s vagina”. yes Fun Bag, with mainstream Liberal left comments/people like this, how can we ever have a civil debate.

    • fun bag May 13, 2015 at 10:23 am

      As a liberal even i can tell you that Obama sucks on so many issues, but the alternative in the last pres election was an arrogant, deluded, religiously insane, nutbag psychopath named Mittens. add to the fact he’s a wallstreet hedgefund tycoon that made his billions on other’s suffering.

  • eddantes56 May 12, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Ed, to use a metaphor, there comes a time when a married couple must divorce; they started out with the best of intentions and may have even tried to resolve their deep differences, whatever they may be. In the end, there is no way to bridge the division.

    That is what we have in this country in my opinion. On one side, we have a group of people who look at the glass as 80-90 percent full; our country was founded by inspired men and women and built by the same, imperfect as they were. Yes slavery was evil and there remain areas to improve but the “tree” is good and the fruit is good. On the other side is a group that believes the U.S. at its core is flawed and must be changed, the glass is 10-20 percent full? The core values of this ‘fundamental transformation’ are rarely values that create and nurture a vibrant, secure and economically prosperous society (see the experiments in world history where the left has “implemented” their values).

    As sad as it is for me to say it, in my opinion, we are past the point of no return and there, unfortunately, will be conflict. I hate to say it or think it but I think a “divorce” is coming, maybe in my lifetime. How that will play out I’m not sure; it might be the rising up of individual States against the Feds to form something that will actually function. When this 18 trillion debt comes due, things are going to get difficult for all of us, economically and the chaos that could ensue might be the tipping point. I hope I am wrong and that I have a blind spot and am missing something and that in fact the “fracture” is not beyond repair.

  • izzymuse May 12, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    The moral roots of liberals and conservatives:

  • fun bag May 13, 2015 at 10:15 am

    can agree with a lot of conservative things though: need to get rid of all these illegals and foreigners coming in, need to try and curb this gay epidemic thats sweeping the country. Contrary to what these gays would have us believe, they are not the center of the universe. All they are is selfish.

  • fun bag May 13, 2015 at 10:27 am

    but so long as we have a mainstream media that spouts nothing but lies and disinformation i dont think we’ll ever come to a consensus on anything. if the public isn’t informed, then rational decisions can’t be made

  • homer498 May 13, 2015 at 11:09 am

    As soon as we start talking about the issues, we’ve lost, and the politicians have won. I think Earl Pitts said it best, “I don’t know who’ going to win the election, but I know who’s going to loose! We are!” Everytime!

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