A Reformation like split, goading the other

I have a diverse group of facebook friends, which gives a rather amazing perspective on what is happening in the nation. Such discord and divide I don’t think I’ve ever seen in my life. Each side is calling for the elimination of the other. What these sides are is somewhat hard to say, though it of course aligns along the Republican-Democrat divide the nation has seen for decades. But now it’s more intense then it has ever been. I mean, I’m talking about people calling for the “elimination” – I see verbs like ‘exterminate’ ‘wipe out’ ‘kill’ … indeed – there are people calling for killing police. There are people calling for killing the Koch brothers. There are people calling for killing lefties and righties … the murderous rages are perhaps polemical at the moment … but in history this has almost always devolved to actual shooting and killing.

And to what can I liken this? For it’s rather new in our times. It’s been bubbling up since the second George Bush and ratcheted up during Barack Obama … this call for the elimination of the other side as if a one party state is the solution to whatever problems people see. I liken it to that period of history which started with the pope and anti-popes of the mid-1300s and culminated in the French Revolution, and writ big it’s called the Reformation. Nothing much was reform – but the slaughter was certainly large. Millions killed over policy differences.

While back then it took decades and centuries now we have sped up due to technology. Instantly we can tweet “death to them!” … and people are doing it. Amazing. Saddening. And so it’s being compressed into months and years. It can bode no good for our nation. Supposedly, in this great land of liberty and letting people be themselves – if you are for the other side you are evil and demonic and out to destroy everything – so you must be destroyed yourself.

There’s calls for throwing every other person in jail. Or outright shooting people. And for what? To argue over some bit of Federal spending, or who gets to make the rules for some program?

And both sides, Republican and Democrat, are more or less calling for a police state. Each is calling for more surveillance of what people are doing. For outlawing more acts and desires. Of arresting those who disagree with them. It’s mind numbing.

On thread after thread on facebook I see calls for the utter destruction of one’s political enemies. And while most people pull back from the rhetoric and perhaps seek some common ground, still others are adamant – “the other side must be destroyed” and “pound them into the ground” and “ground up into mince meat.” Well, this later perhaps too British, it’s still there … this removal of anyone they disagree with from threads, from society, from any reasonable consideration.

I see it on blogs. And it’s not just one or the other, it’s both sides, the partisans of both sides. So many seem so confused about what the point of the country is. It’s about Liberty for All … and that means people will actually do something, believe something, want something, different than you – and that’s no big deal. But no, if you’re for global warming the others are evil and out to destroy society, they must be squashed and hounded from public discourse. The science is settled, everyone who disagrees is evil. Then there’s those against global warming calling for the removal of anyone evil enough to be concerned at all about the environment. People are painting themselves into corners that are going to be hard to get out of.

The numbers of graphics with a pithy few words decrying the mere existence of anyone who disagrees with them is growing. Somehow these people who make these graphics are sure that not only can the solution to complex problems be solved in pithy comments of a few words – but that anyone who doesn’t ‘agree’ to these aphorisms is somehow a malignant force that must be pounded into submission.

I’ve had to defriend people because they or their friendly commentators use words like “exterminate” … are they out of their minds? Have we not had enough killing over the centuries? Apparently not!

Each side proclaims itself innocent of any wrong doing of course. Yet there are clearly Christians Fundamentalists calling for the deaths of gay men … and Liberal Atheists calling for the killing of capitalists. There’s calls for destroying every vestige of the free market, and those calling for the destroying every vestige of any government oversight of anything. As I said, it’s rather mind numbing.

Of course, in a blog post it’s impossible to list and outline and limn all the various permutations of this ‘we against them’ mentality building on both sides against the other. But again, it bodes no ill. There are people arming themselves to the teeth, while others are calling for the government to come crashing down the doors.

And almost always the fervor of both sides approaches that which accompanied the religious fervor of the 300 year long religious war that rocked Europe during those times when there were different popes, and then different faiths and religious practices until finally it met up in the blood bath of the French Revolution. There’s people putting up graphics with pictures of guillotines, for heaven’s sakes.

Well, it’s a mess. And it’s not good. And I wish people would calm down. For we live in the greatest times for mankind ever. Never before have more people been more free to pursue their dreams and aspirations, and have the wealth and health to do it. And instead of people tending to their own affairs, it’s almost willful neglect of what they want while they channel their energy into the destruction of the other side – whatever they perceive it to be.

How many will be killed before sense returns is hard to see … but all I see is endless more travail for no reason but faith – a faith in government to run everything. So long as your side is in control. After all, Republicans are calling for the government to test everyone on “welfare” for drugs, while the Democrats are busy calling everything under the sun “welfare.”

Well, that’s about all I can say about this now. To conclude the year on such a down note is rather disheartening. But really folks, calm yourselves down. The nation is big enough for many ideas. The idea that there is one and only one best way to do things is Medieval – and led to frightening slaughter. And I really don’t want to experience anything like it. Do what you want, leave others alone to do what they wish. Perhaps if you get just half of what you want that will make you happy – and let the other half get what they want, and that will make them happy … and we can all get back to enjoying the most astonishing society mankind ever created — of wealth and health and peace.

Happy New Year ….

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