Civility lost in communicating political viewpoints

| October 13, 2010 | 1 Comment

This election year, our family has received many e-mails and publications that are near polar opposites to the kinds of communications suggested by Father Dease in his address to the St. Thomas faculty and staff. Some of these publications chronicle the evils of Republicans, some castigate Democrats. Surprisingly, some of the most viscous have been directed at the independent candidate for Minnesota governor, Tom Horner.

One of the most conscientious Catholics I know is a high-ranking official in organized labor and lifelong Democrat — a very fair Democrat, but a lifelong one. Another very conscientious Catholic is a staunch Republican — a mostly fair one, also. Interestingly, they have respect for one another and are good friends. Importantly, they are civil — not only to each other, but to others. They are both respected on many fronts. I have other friends who are conscientious, and religious, members of the Indepen­dence Party. These are also respected.

Perhaps we should examine the internal consistency of what we are doing with our communications, whether originated by us or merely forwarded.

Should we condemn all the people who voted for Democrats because they “support intrinsic evils?” On the other hand, are not wars, poverty, crime and greed also dimensions of the pro-life consideration?

Respectfully, I think we can all do better. We are unlikely to make any converts by castigating so many people — even as we hold to our own beliefs. Condemnation may not be an effective endorsement of solid values. We may only harden others in their beliefs. We can still hold rigidly to our own beliefs, and express them publicly, while treating people with civility and charity. Who knows, they may be favorably influenced by what we do and say.

It will be interesting, in the final analysis, to see who has the most influence and whose values are ultimately respected. My own view is that the country has enough problems that working together in a constructive way is long overdue.

Frederick M. Zimmerman is a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Minnetonka.

Category: My Turn