Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Productive Conversation

     Writing a blog can be fun.  I have enjoyed writing this one and appreciate everyone that takes time out of their day to read and comment on it.  I appreciate feedback from all directions.  It is very easy to be secure in your views when you receive pats on the back and comments of agreement from friends and readers who share your observations and opinions.  I have put effort into researching facts that I present in support of my articles and want to be very careful about not misrepresenting or misconstruing those facts.  If all you hope to accomplish when writing is kudos from "like minded" people then you limit your audience and also discourage open comment and debate.  Though I am not attempting to be "controversial" I have wanted to generate conversation among folks whose views be they left or right are closer to the center than most of the extremists occupying our airwaves today.  I believe that there are more people in this country, be they liberal or conservative in nature, are falling into the trap of allowing extremists to affect their opinion by pressuring their party constituents into believing things their eyes and mind tell them not to.  Honest conversation and polite debate are healthy ways to accomplish compromise and understanding; you don't have to believe someone's views or perceptions but to not listen at all and discuss these differences is quite frankly, ignorant.
     Thank you Steve!  For those that do not know Steve, he is a fellow retired police officer, registered democrat, former basketball team mate and fellow Tar Heel fan.  He is also African American.  Steve commented last week on one of my blog advertisements on Facebook with a dissenting view of some of my points regarding the participation of the Republican Party in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  You can read this short debate on my Facebook page as I have left it up for others as an example of a polite debate.  Several folks have read it and a few have commented on the "good" debate between us.  This is important to me because one of my hopes for this blog was that it would create healthy dialogue among us and hopefully help bridge the gap between friends, acquaintances and citizens of the city who may believe they have "great" political differences but by listening and conversing could realize they also have some common ground that can be used in compromise.  Elected officials are not the catalyst for a change in climate in this city as they are mostly concerned on their first day of a new term with building support for the next election.  Opportunistic antagonists certainly do not want "accord building" within the citizenship because realizing that our differences are not too drastic to overcome would be a death knell in their self absorbed rhetoric and popularity.  Eliminating the extremists and greater conversation among the citizens who vote would create "in theory" elections decided by more educated and informed votes.  If this or any blog can generate the kind of conversation and discussion Steve and I shared last week the citizens of Greensboro would not have to rely as much on yellow journalism and their sensationalistic attempts to stir emotions instead of responsibly reporting the news and listing candidate qualifications and positions.
     After the chat Steve and I still have differing perceptions of some of my points.  I respect his position based on his life experiences and admittedly cannot begin to understand all of them simply because I have never "walked in his shoes".  I am sure there are certain positions we each share that we can discuss from now to the end of eternity and will agree to disagree.  But we did talk; we did discuss.  We both learned and admitted that we share a disdain of extremists.  We both admitted that we have voted for candidates from both parties.  Steve's view of the GOP is that it is the party of "rich, old white guys".  I actually giggled a little when I read this because the Democratic Party has even more "rich, old white guys".  Our discussion was civil, we still chat on Facebook, we haven't "unfriended" each other; in other words, we found some common ground.  It's not rocket science.  It's caring enough about what goes on in your community, your state and your country to educate yourself to the point that exercising your constitutionally guaranteed right to vote is your own.  For if you allow your views to be determined by extremists, opportunistic antagonists, no talent editorialists or political organizations that hand you a list of who they want you to vote for, you might as well be signing a proxy allowing status quo and giving in to politicians who only have their best interests in common.  Until the citizens of this country, state and city get over their fear of talking to people of different races, ethnicities and cultures these vultures will continue to prey on fears, stereotypes and misperceptions that are designed to keep us apart.
     For example, I was reading a Facebook entry from our Mayor this week about House Bill 263.  Mayor Vaughn is opposed to this bill and has done a good job keeping the electorate notified on the progression of the bill as it travels through the State Assembly.  It was quite amazing reading the postings of upset people who more than likely supported the "enlarging" of the council when the democrat majority assembly did the same thing several years ago.  As President Obama said, "elections have consequences".  Personally I have no opinion either way of the content of the bill as I can understand the positions of both sides.  What I oppose is the way it has been shoved down our throats AGAIN!  So, I only took this position, comparing it to the previous council restructuring and school merger as being changes that were forced on Greensboro/Guilford County.  I may have been the only middle of the road participant involved in the conversation, never taking a for or against position.  A former News and Record reporter took me to task saying that school merger wasn't forced on us as "it was voted on in a referendum".  Last time I checked "referendums" contained a yes or no vote; school merger had a yes or yes vote.  Many of the people wanting to defeat HB 263 are the ones that favored school merger.  
     Extremists still attacked not taking the time to actually read what I had written.
Over the course of two days I was told by posters that "the passing of this bill is similar to the events in Charleston and would cause that to happen here".  I'm not quite sure what the massacre of innocent church attendees have to do with voting districts.  When I mentioned that forced school merger had ruined my high school one woman who had moved here from the north three years ago said that she "knew" what I was hinting at and I should "practice Christian values and learn to live among people different from me".  I explained my position, denounced her assumption and she was not heard from again.  One white woman chastised a young man for not acknowledging "white" privilege and lectured him on the black experience in this country.  I wonder how she researched that?
     The entire post was taken over by folks with an extremist agenda who obviously did not read the posts or positions they were responding to.  I'm sure the people on that thread simultaneously think I am a socialist or Tea Party member.  No one demonstrated a command of the bill being opposed/supported; in other words, "my party will tell me what to like or not like because I am not strong enough or motivated enough to educate myself".  If Greensboro citizens do not get off their lazy asses and voice an educated opinion instead of allowing outside sources to cast their vote for them we will never be a productive city again.  These people can turn an election their way if voter apathy continues in Greensboro; and they are absolutely killing this city.
     Participating in the well meaning thread started by our Mayor that got hijacked by extremists was a waste of time; I think I'll stick with talking to Steve.             

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