Sunday, August 07, 2022


      That's the slogan on one of my favorite T-shirts: "Fight Peaceful," rendered in block capitals.  I like it for the ambiguity and the contradiction -- what's it supposed to mean, anyway?

      One of the things it means is how our political system is supposed to work.  We're supposed to fight one another peacefully, online, on the letters-to-the-Editor page, on the protest line, the debate stage, at the ballot box and in our legislatures.

       We're kind of sucking at it of late. 

      It's real easy to point at the other guys and blame them for starting it.  It's protestors high-sticking with the standards that were supposed to just carry their signs, it's mean cops or outside agitators, it's those guys throwing rocks or starting fires, it's that other guy shooting from cover--  It's those faceless s.o.b.s who run the government so wrongly, it's the surging, anonymous, wrong-headed mob....  Somehow it's never us.  It's never any of our friends.  It's never any elected or appointed official we approve of.

      Except maybe it is.  Maybe it's everybody: the people we like and the people we loathe.  Perhaps sometimes it's one and sometimes the other, occasionally both.

      And we should all knock it the hell off.  We're going to break something important, if we haven't already: the civil peace.  The way in which we have, mostly, fought one another peacefully since the country was founded.  We bled like hell and we made a hell on Earth the last time we forgot how to do it, and perhaps it's been so long that we've burnished and sanitized the carnage into legend.  It wasn't legendary to the dead and maimed at the time.  It wasn't legendary to grieving families back then -- and if we break the peace again, the heartbreak and tears, the pain and the suffering won't be a noble myth this time, either.

      Fight all you like; America is an ideal, an intention, an ongoing experiment in self-rule.  But fight peaceful.  Don't let grievance-mongering demagogues of any flavor lead you to try short-circuiting democratic processes with a brick.  You will bleed -- and they will laugh all the way to the bank.


Mike V said...

We as a nation have forgotten, encouraged I think by politicians and the media, that we can disagree without being disagreeable; and that more unites us than divides us. If we don't regain that, it will get ugly in a way no one really wants but will be powerless to stop.

The slide toward the civil war started with the Nullification Crisis of 1832. By 1860, all of those who remembered there is more that unites us than divides us were dead or out of office and there was no one left in 1860 to go "Have you all lost your minds? We're all Americans and we can work this out!" And the only solution was disunion or war. I pray it doesn't come to that now.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Its okay to agree to disagree and walk away, thinking we convinced the other that we were right and they were mistaken. Hating each other for the others ideas is dumb. They have as much a right to their opinion as you have to yours.