“The real political problem is ‘How can we contribute to make the life of man on this diminishing Earth more secure and more tolerable?’” – Einstein

What is this but kindness?

Bishop Desmond Tutu argued that in both the Nazi and the Rwandan genocides, that first the victims “are described as different. Then details of difference are used to establish them as ‘less than’ or ‘worse than’ us. Then they are likened to animals. Later they are called beast. Finally they are vermin to be destroyed.”

Kindness – being predicated on love and empathy – does not allow us to accept other human beings as fundamentally any different from us. Kindness demands that we see all other humans as fully deserving of our love and acceptance. There is no “us versus them” thinking allowed in love and kindness.

All people are worthy of compassion and kindness simply because they are human. Kindness in politics opposes efforts to divide Americans one from another. Politicians and activist who attack and demonize their fellow countrymen are part of the problem in this country instead of being part of the solution. When we support and vote for such persons we ourselves become part of the problem. The questions to ask ourselves are 1) “Is this politician attacking and dividing Americans or trying to unite Americans?” 2) Is this politician advocating laws or policies that are cruel or harmful to my fellow citizens?” and 3) “Is this politician simply criticizing others or actually offering realistic solutions?”

Some politicians and pundits today do nothing but attack and demonize other American voters – sometimes labeling them ‘un-American’, not ‘real Americans’ or saying they should be deported for having different political or religious views. This demonization and name-calling of fellow Americans contributes to a toxic political environment that accomplishes no good and ultimately harms the country. This unkind behavior is continued on talk radio and by talking heads on television where each side demonizes the other. One side will call the other a name to which the other side responds in kind. From there the rhetoric merely escalates, becoming harder and harder for each side to see the other as decent fellow citizens of the same country.

Some partisan web sites excel at bomb throwing, name-calling attacks on the other party for mere partisan reasons. These web sites pay for columns written by extreme partisans who seek merely to stir up fervor among the party faithful just to sell books and garner speaking fees, rather than seeking to improve our nation. These people are part of what is wrong in our country. It is unkind and indecent to intentionally demean and attack fellow Americans. Readers who frequent these hyper-partisan news sites, watch these partisan TV ‘news’ shows, and buy books by intentionally divisive partisans like Ann Coulter are aiding the coarsening and unkindness in our culture. Worse, many Americans often restrict their “news” gathering to only sites and shows that merely reinforce what they already believe – this leads to groupthink and to a lack of critical thinking.

Such TV and radio shows, talking heads, columnist, and authors contribute significantly to the unkind and toxic atmosphere that divides our country, and encourages Americans to see one another as being in a continuous struggle with other Americans. No one truly wins such struggles. These hyper-partisans are weakening America. As Abraham Lincoln reminded us, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”

Both partisan conservatives as well as liberals often only get their news from sources that agree with them, leading to a harsher and hardening view of others, contributing to an “us vs. them mentality”, and decreasing kindness in American life. This is not healthy either for the nation or for our political parties.

Ron Hill