May county live long, prosper

Published 3:21 pm Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Recently Shelby County was named the fourth most “conservative-friendly” county in the country by a conservative news site.

I was not surprised that our county might be characterized as more conservative than most places; however, I was struck by the comments related to the article on the Web. The vitriol in the back and forth among people responding to the article seemed to be a local version of what is wrong with political discourse in our country today; a total lack of civility.

The primary forms of communication were stereotyping, scapegoating and mutual hostility. There was no attempt at empathy, personal responsibility or mutual respect, which might have resulted in a much more productive conversation.

As a liberal, I’ve found Shelby County to be very friendly. In part, this is because when talking about hot button issues, which I do quite often, I attempt to make my arguments about ideas, not people. I think that most of us, liberal and conservative, are just trying to do what we believe to be good. I also understand no group is monolithic.

There is great diversity of opinion within any group.

So, I try to take each person as they come and value their humanity no matter how fiercely I might disagree with one of their ideas. This makes it easier to interject civility into most interactions.

I’m a big fan of the television series Star Trek, probably because it imagines a society on earth in which intergroup conflicts like the aforementioned one have been resolved. In this version of the future, humans have found a way to move beyond the zero sum game of thinking that every disagreement must end with a winner and loser.

In “Star Trek,” people have mastered the art of not getting too caught up in the righteousness of their own path. So in this utopian spirit, with a desire for more civil political discourse I’d like to leave you with a Vulcan greeting: “May we together become greater than the sum of both (all) of us. “