Learn to Respect Each Other’s Opinions

by Diane Dimond on July 7, 2014

Are We Really an Independent Nation?

Are We Really Independent Thinkers?

Another 4th of July holiday has come and gone and every year I try to think past the BBQ’s and beer and ponder the origin of Independence Day.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

That is, of course, the most famous line from the Declaration of Independence approved by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

We learned that quote as school kids but these days it seems out of touch with where we are as a nation, doesn’t it?

With the economy stuck in park, the approval rating of our government leaders in the sinkhole and with so many of us worried about the future and at war with each other over differences of opinion and politics I’m not sensing a lot of happiness in the country.

declaration of Independence

Take Five Minutes to Read This

I wish folks would take a few minutes to read the Declaration of Independence while they relax over this long weekend. It is only about 1300 words, just a little longer than this column.

It outlines what our forefathers fought against as they established this country. The absolute tyranny of the King of England brought our ancestors together in a single, noble purpose: The fight for independence — for themselves and for all of us who were to follow. When their work was done trusted leaders were able to make laws free from British control and collectively design our fledgling country’s future.

This time of year makes me think about all forms of independence with which we are endowed. I think freedom of thought and action are the dearest thing we Americans can claim. As long as our actions aren’t contrary to law we are allowed to do and say anything just about anything we want – even if it is offensive to others.

DemocratsVSRepublicansSymbols

Where Do You Get Your Opinions?

But every day there is fresh evidence that many of America’s citizens are painfully divided and vehemently determined to crush any thought that isn’t like their own.  What happened to the American ideal, instilled by those wise men 238 years ago, that working together makes for a much better and stronger country?

Today, our seemingly entrenched us-versus-them / Democrats vs Republicans / liberals vs conservatives mindset has had the opposite effect. I sometimes fret that the very fabric that sewed our 50 states together has begun to unravel. In many respects, we are no longer a cohesive country working toward the common goal of a lawful, strong, lasting empire.

We’re so busy attacking each other that we’ve failed to notice the real evils in the world and here at home. In and around Syria and Iraq marauding Islamist extremists are routinely assassinating those who don’t adhere to their hate-filled, racist and misogynistic brand of religion. Our homeland is surely in increased danger with every mile of land they capture and claim for their new caliphate.

Too Many Migrants Just One of the Problems

Too Many Migrants Just One of the Problems

At home our nation’s borders are, literally, being stormed by tens of thousands of illegal immigrants. We send our young out to fight wars and then fail to provide them with good and timely medical care. Gangs of violent criminals roam the streets of some of America’s largest cities. Poisonous drugs infiltrate even the smallest American villages. Too many guns fall into the hands of the wrong people. Many citizens who desperately want to work can’t find jobs or are cripplingly under-employed – and this has been the case for years.

The Census Bureau tells us that nearly half the U.S. population is supported by a government program and about 45% of Americans pay no federal taxes. Politicians get away with promising everything and delivering little.

Yet faced with these monumental problems we spend our time fighting over things like the names of football teams. Or whether the Supreme Court’s decision on the so-called Hobby Lobby case has erased a woman’s right to contraceptives (If you study the decision you see it did no such thing.) With hair-trigger indignation we fight about perceived intolerance and income equality – two circumstances that are ingrained in the human condition, biblically long standing and impossible to cure.

As nationally syndicated radio host Dennis Prager recently wrote, “There is a rule in life: Those who do not confront the greatest evils will confront much lesser evils or simply manufacture alleged evils that they then confront.”

Listening Equals Respect

Listening Equals Respect

What is wrong with us that we cannot hold civil discussions or listen to someone else’s point of view? Perhaps it’s because we’re afraid new facts might upset our firmly held beliefs? When did this automatically dismissive mentality take the place of respecting every American’s right to their own opinion? Why, we even have major universities that invite and then dis-invite commencement speakers who have served in the White House – but not for the “correct” party. As if hearing an opposing viewpoint might damage a graduate’s well-being.

To my mind when we resort to shutting out information we fall into the trap both political parties have set for us in their never ending quest for votes. They manipulate the message because if they can get us to believe their rhetoric, they get to keep their jobs. Spurred on by partisan media and politicians it’s easy to accept what we hear from them instead of taking the time to think through an issue and come to our own informed opinions.

Their Work Guaranteed Our Independence

Their Work Guaranteed  Independence

During this Independence Day break I urge a few minutes be used to think back to those 50 members of the Continental Congress – Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock and the rest of the forward thinking bunch – who took the time to discuss, debate and compromise their way into a document that helped formed the nation we live in today. The Declaration of Independence urges all of us to have, “A decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind.”

When we lose the ability to respect our fellow citizens we’re in real trouble.

 

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane Dimond July 7, 2014 at 12:21 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Fran Davis writes:

“Wonderful and thoughtful!”

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Diane Dimond July 7, 2014 at 12:22 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Barbara Ormand writes:

“Thomas Jefferson is one of my heroes. As John F. Kennedy said so many years ago at a soiree honoring Pablo Casals, “Never have so many brilliant people been assembled in the White House at one time, other than when Thomas Jefferson dined alone!”
By the way, I do read your column on a regular basis and enjoy it even tho’ it deals with some of the most unpleasant aspects of our society – criminals and crime. “

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Diane Dimond July 7, 2014 at 12:23 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Harry writes:

“Nice piece, Diane. I should not be surprised anymore but I am amazed every year that so many people I meet on Independence Day do not connect fireworks with our freedom.
Each 4th, I read the Declaration in a public place to a largely disinterested public. While I have yet to be arrested, I almost wish I would be just to see that headline.”

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Diane Dimond July 7, 2014 at 12:27 pm

ABQ Journal Reader Janet Pugh writes:

“Dear Ms Dimond.

I just read your column in the Albuquerque Journal. I have been giving much thought to our problems that continue to get more and more frightening in our beautiful country.

I am 76 years old and can remember when I didn’t have to worry about offending someone if I didn’t use the latest correct wording such as illegal immigrants, the redskins, etc. I am sick and tired of trying to pacify everyone and their particular “rights”. Why is everyone searching for things that are offensive to them?

I am an antique dealer and specialize in jewelry. Rumors were spreading around, about not being able to sell anything with elephant ivory; which includes pianos with ivory piano keys, musical instruments inlaid with ivory, jewelry or any other objects made or ornamented with ivory objects of any age.
These things cannot be sold, bought , transported ,imported nor exported. A dealer in Santa Fe was caught with some elephant ivory in his inventory and had it all confiscated and fined $75,000. Of course big game hunters are allowed to kill two elephants. I won’t go into any more detail, but by contacting the US Fish and Wildlife and asked them why I had not seen anything in the news about this, they said that Obama had decreed this last February and they will get this info into the news soon. We are living in an age of so many restrictions in our speech and actions that I believe that I have lost so many freedoms in my own country.

I live in New Mexico and we have a real problem with the illegals (may I say this?) with drugs, our schools, hospitals and medical care. My husband had COPD and was in a room with a man from Kosovo who had TB and another time exposed to a girl with Whooping Cough. People who hire these men for yard work and women for housecleaning are often having their things stolen and don’t even know where they live. I was involved in a traffic accident which was their fault and they had no insurance and gave a false address.

Our governor has tried unsuccessfully for many years to take away the rights for them to have driver’s licenses and to have voter ID . Our state is the poorest in the US, yet we are being flooded with children who are bringing in all sorts of diseases we had eradicated in the past. If we would simply follow the old immigration laws (they certainly worked) and take all of the goodies we have been giving them, they would soon return to their countries on their own volition. I understand that quite a few of them are returning to Mexico as their economy is getting better than ours. That is really pathetic!

I do believe that only answer to the solution to these problems is to have term limitations for our state and federal senators and representatives. Our politicians have created such fantastic jobs for themselves that they will do anything to keep them, which means they will never resolve the immigration problem, well fare state, voter Identification, giving out driver’s licenses to illegals, all of the pork, the influence of the lobbyists, banks, CEOs, etc. I lived 8 years in Germany and never even thought of taking advantage of the Germans and obeyed all of their laws and had a wonderful time, plus learned their language and learned about their ways of life and became good friends with many of them. I had an international driver’s license, and learned their rules of the road.

The direction our country is going leaves me with much fear and trepidation and I can only see it on a fast downward spin.

Thanks for reading my feelings about our once beloved country and my remembering the days when we were all so very proud to be an American.”

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Diane Dimond July 7, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Facebook Friend Patti Petow writes:

“Very well stated, Diane. I decided to stop any discussion of politics on my Facebook page for the very reasons you mention in your article. It became too much for me to bear, watching friends I’ve known for years going back and forth in angry and unkind fashion.

When I’ve focused on face to face debate on the political climate, discussions rapidly decline into outright heated (even worse) arguments. I’ve seen it happen.

The wise men who wrote The Constitution would certainly be appalled by our behavior as free thinking citizens. As well, they may not be too happy to see today’s government at work.”

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Diane Dimond July 7, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Facebook Friend Teresa Moffett writes:

” I like everything you write..but, THIS s my favorite. Thanks!”

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Diane Dimond July 8, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Twitter pal rajalowe writes:

“@DiDimond One should never be afraid of someone else’s opinion unless the listener’s beliefs are not based in facts and strong beliefs.”

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Diane Dimond July 8, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Twitter Pal hardkid24 writes:

” @DiDimond Opinions yea but not Stupidity. When the media put people on Cable TV who R lying its not needed . Does every one have to be FAUX.”

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Lisa July 11, 2014 at 12:47 am

I am tired of logging on twitter and seeing you attacked, Diane. All over a damn book you wrote about MJ. You covered the case.
I have not signed on in well over 6 months (I forgot my PW and email is no longer available) I check your twitter feed to see if you tweeted out articles and all I see is what you already know.
I hope you know that I appriciate this day and age technology etc. But some take it too far.

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