There is a clear correlation between the awful tragedies we’ve experienced here in the United States and the vitriolic atmosphere of our public discourse. It eerily reminds me of the toxicity in Israel before Yitzchak Rabin’s assassination.
It’s not simply a matter of cause and effect, of course, but our leaders and other public figures need to accept responsibility and appeal to their admirers to show respect and civility. It starts with them.
So, dear politicians, officers of the law, sports heroes, entertainers, clergy, organizational leaders, talk radio hosts…
Stop the name calling.
Discuss the issues, not the personalities.
Denounce hate emphatically, immediately, and often.
Tell your friends and supporters that there are certain things you simply won’t tolerate.
Stand firm to your beliefs, all the while preaching tolerance and respect; even if you have vehement disagreements.
Remember that the people you criticize have loved ones.
Be prepared to compromise.
Will this stop hatred? No – there are evil people in this world. But we can stop our kids from the growing contamination of blind prejudice and senseless hatred. “Civility,” said JFK,” is not a weakness.” We can work toward creating a just and civil society for all human beings.
Midrash teaches that the first human being was created for the sake of peace, so that nobody should say that “my parent is greater than yours” (gender adapted).
All of us are created in the image of God. Including the people we dislike.