Saturday, January 15, 2011
Reacting without Demonizing
For a few days, I will not be very regularly online and unfortunately still have to leave this blog on moderation for obvious reasons. I'll do the best I can with getting on to okay comments that present serious responses, whether in agreement or not, to the political atmosphere of today.]
Reading about the aftermath of the shootings in Tucson and thinking a lot about what we can do to tone down the rhetoric, I've seen various ideas and writers expounding on the problem. It's not going to be easy.
How do you keep the atmosphere civil and still respond to someone like Rush Limbaugh-- The worst thing said this week-- Limbaugh takes the cake.
Can you imagine saying that Democrats relished this happening for political gain? Can you imagine what that means he thinks about people like me? I remember during Bush's time in office with the Iraq war, Limbaugh would say that liberals wanted us to fail there.
It's beyond understanding how he could think that way. I mean I know a lot of liberals and everyone of them hoped that Iraq would succeed for the benefit of the Iraqi people, our troops, and us here in the country. Nobody ever said they hoped it wouldn't work.
What Limbaugh thought is clearly how he thinks. He said, as soon as Obama got in office, that he hoped he'd fail. So no caring for the good of the country or the world, just hoped for failure to benefit his own political or power motivations.
It meant that what he thought about liberals like me was how he thought and through transference put it onto the 'other.' So how do you deal with a person like that?
First we have to realize that everybody, who is not mentally deranged, operates as they do because it benefits them. He is getting something from what he does. If he didn't, he'd do something different. It could be attaboys. It could be a sense of self-righteousness or it could be something else.
I don't clearly know what all he receives from these kinds of words, but one thing sure is money. He is an extremely wealthy man for saying what the far right wants to hear. From where does his money come? A radio station that sells advertising on it to get that money.
So that's one idea-- find out who sponsors those like Limbaugh and write them that as long as we are hearing that kind of fear mongering or vitriol (and there are worse out there than Rush), we're not going to buy what those companies sell and will find what we need elsewhere. That hits at the pocketbook. It goes directly to the seat of the problem because without that money to support their work, they'd have to find a different message.
And I don't recommend we make this a mandate or put up lists but rather we just do it as individuals as part of our desire to not support what is letting people like that profit from that kind of talk. These companies aren't our enemies. They simply make money from being on what is a popular radio program. What if they didn't make the money anymore from it? Limbaugh is a wealthy man, he can sponsor himself if he wants. I have a feeling he won't.
If we demonize someone personally for what they say, we are not helping the atmosphere in our country. If we refuse to support them, call out their words that are inappropriate, but don't put the person out there as being evil, I think we are still being effective in encouraging what we value and discouraging what we do not, And yes, those on the far right can do the exact opposite, but at least we are not ourselves contributing to the violent rhetoric that, in my mind, isn't healthy.
To condemn the person is to encourage possibly someone else to come forth with a violent act and that worries me whether it strikes the left or the right. We are diminished as a people when anyone is assassinated as a method to stop a certain type of political idea from being a choice. We don't have to be part of what is paying for it though.
My ideas on this come out of two things-- one how you raise a child. You don't get anywhere by demonizing them, but you do though your own example, a system of rewards and when need be punishments. You have to get to what matters to them if you want to motivate change in their behavior. Too simple?
Well my other thinking on this was most recently reinforced by watching the children's film (there's always a lot of wisdom in children's films), How to Train Your Dragon, which is based on a children's book. I enjoy many films aimed at kids which I am not sure what that says about me; but this one, artistically, and for the moral to the story has been one I bought and have watched several times for mental therapy.
I like how the hero uses a journal to write down what he is learning, to draw his ideas. I liked how he had to accept he was different from others and that was okay; but I especially liked the ways he learned to reach dragons. It reminded me of something I have always believed but sometimes forget-- everybody has reasons for what they do. They are acting in ways that they feel reward them.
In this case, if we become enraged ourselves by what they say, they win. The more angry we are, Farm Boss reminded me, the more their own audience grows in reaction. Change the energy level and quit rewarding negative behavior (from either side). Reward instead positive acts.