pro-woman

Tuesday marks the 4 year anniversary of the Intramuralist… fire up!

 

I am excited not only about the election and our post that day, but I am also excited and honored and humbled and a little, truly blown away to acknowledge this coming week how far we have come — and yes, what the Intramuralist is still called to do.  It is a joy and a privilege to share these postings together — modeling respectful dialogue.  Thanks for being part of something bigger than you and me.

 

While Tuesday awaits, no less, I must initially acknowledge some of the many things that strike me; in fact, there is one development that continually makes me pause and ask, “What?  Really?  People said that?”

 

Over the past few months especially, I’ve noticed the evolution of a very specific rhetoric, a rhetoric that’s evident of something bigger — albeit a rhetoric that may well be the manifestation of foolishness.

 

Over the course of these campaigns, many times we have witnessed the promotion of a candidate being “pro-woman” or “all about women” or “the woman’s candidate.”  The identification suggests that one candidate is solely empathetic of how women feel, while the other candidate has zero in common with the feminine gender.

 

Here’s the zillion dollar, semi-subtle sanctimoniousness within that gender specification:

 

All women don’t feel the same.

 

Let’s be clear…

 

Do all men feel the same?

Do all children?  … teens?  … youth?

Does each demographic category feel the same about all issues?

Are all individuals equally passionate?

Do demographics extinguish individuality?

How about all Hispanics?

Or African-Americans?

Would it ever be appropriate to conclude that all African-Americans, Puerto Rican Americans, or caucasian Americans feel exactly the same way?

 

Of course not.

 

Unfortunately, I thus conclude that any messaging campaign suggesting that one candidate is “the candidate for all women” is inaccurate and arguably inappropriate, as the message doesn’t resonate with a significant portion of the female population.  Most of us have multiple female friends.  Believe me… they don’t all think the same way.

 

Wait… there is one additional, tangent, seemingly highly sensitive aspect of this argument… that is, that the pro-woman’s candidate is also often identified as someone fully supportive of abortion or perhaps more politically correctly (and extensively) stated, women’s reproductive rights.  In other words, because the stance implies the allowance for an individual woman to make all decisions regarding her own body, this is thus more empathetic of women.  The inherent inaccuracy, however, is that factually via the process of abortion, lives of women are also terminated.  Friends, this post proclaims no opinion on the wisdom of abortion; that is tough topic and one which we would never treat arrogantly nor insensitively.  What this post does suggest, though, is that to proclaim either above opinion is more “pro-woman” than the other is illogical.

Therein lies another attempt at persuasive rhetoric.  All women do not feel the same way.

 

As this election season winds down (finally, thank God), I am beginning to quietly resent this notion that all demographic categories are likeminded…

 

We feel different ways and believe different things…

 

… about abortion… about economics… about debt, unemployment, and entitlements.   We feel differently about the campaigns and their candidates.

 

My concluding sense is that the idea that one candidate could possibly be the candidate for all women is merely a rhetorical re-election ploy — just as if someone asserted themselves as the candidate for all men, all African-Americans, all college students or Californians.  So when we don’t all feel the same way, what do we do?  How is the candidate to handle himself?  … to arrogantly assume he knows best for an entire gender, race, or people group?  … or to tenderly and correctly handle words of truth?

 

We’ll see beginning Tuesday.  I wish I was certain the rhetoric would go away.

 

Respectfully,

AR

stormy

The pictures are heartbreaking — almost unbelievable.  As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie remarked, “The level of devastation at the Jersey Shore is unthinkable.”

 

There have been multiple deaths, major destruction, and now massive need for clean up.  Extending along the coast and even branching eastward into Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, etc., the impact has been environmentally and economically huge.  Gov. Christie is right; the devastation is unthinkable.

 

So what do we do when unthinkable storms happen? … the seemingly unprecedented, natural disasters?

 

I suggest there exist two starkly different responses:  one rooted in arrogance — one, however, rooted in humility… two ways we respond when the unimaginable storms come our unfortunate way.

 

Allow me to suggest that the arrogance is often veiled; it’s an imperious approach that typically manifests itself within some form of blame — blame of another person or circumstance — but blame on something so concrete that potential disagreement is muted.  How can we disagree with a blame spoken with certainty?  How can we oppose a reasoning seemingly so concrete?  Yes, the arrogance guised as blame allows us to have an answer for the storm, even though reality often means the answer is at best ambiguous.

 

Almost simultaneously as Sandy destroyed our nation’s shores, multiple persons proclaimed that the concrete reason for the storm was climate change (also known as global warming or insertion-of-currently-most-politically-correct-and-or-convenient-noun here).  Former VP Al Gore, for example, wasted little time in labeling Sandy “a disturbing sign of things to come,” adding, “We must heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis.”

 

Now before proceeding with this posting, allow me to add a small but significant disclaimer:  the Intramuralist does not know whether or not climate change is fact.  I do not know.  I don’t know if it’s true or if it’s false.  Reasonable people disagree on this issue, and many of those most passionate on one side or the other are either agenda-driven or stand to personally benefit by the enactment of the argument.  Hence, I’ll say again:  I don’t know if climate change is true or false.  No one knows for certain.

 

What I do believe, no less, is that when we assume that climate change is the reason for a weather event, we are acting arrogantly.  Please… I mean no disrespect.  My point lies within the basis of the theory.  The basis for climate change is that dangerous weather events are happening due to changes in the Earth’s climate that have materialized due to man’s irresponsible behavior.

 

At first, such sounds fairly selfless — man’s irresponsible behavior.  Does that not sound selfless?  Where is the arrogance?

 

The arrogance lies within the focus; the focus is completely on man.

 

Within the climate change theory, there is zero acknowledgement of a potential divine being who may or may not have a purpose of which we are unaware.  There is no intentional corporate nor individual reflection that asks, “If there is a God of the universe — if he has allowed this — what could be the reasoning?  How, possibly, could this be part of any intentional plan?  Is there a reason?  A plan?  A consequence?”  The arrogance of the climate change theory is the assumption with certainty that we are the ones in control.  There is no submission to any God of the universe nor to anyone wiser or more omniscient than we.  Hence, true or untrue, I find the absolute blaming on climate change a veiled, arrogant approach.

 

But wait… where’s the second response to these storms?  … the one rooted in humility?  … the one that makes us feel a little better?

 

Watch how people now bond together… to clean up… support one another… and to love one another well.  To sort through the ruins… building each other’s houses… putting their houses back up on the rock… and encouraging those whose loss is yes, by all means unthinkable.  At times of crisis, the humbly beautiful approach is where we work side by side regardless of color or creed, income or demographics, or any potential disparity.

 

A wise approach to life’s storms means focusing on what binds us as opposed to what rips us apart.

 

Thank God… until Tuesday, at least.

 

In search of wisdom… always…

 

Respectfully,

AR

the extreme games

Last week I had a fairly tense discussion with my oldest son.  Yes, even in healthy families, heated discussions can and do occur.  “Heated,” however, does not equate to “unhealthy.”  Granted, it was not derogatory nor profane, but it was hard.  Neither one of us enjoyed it.

 

Nearing the end of now the definite argument — with disagreement fully, emotionally apparent — my son proclaimed (in the seemingly unending wisdom of adolescence), “You’re unreasonable!  You’re ridiculous!  You’re extreme!”

 

With that then perceived, concluding assertion, my son got out of the car, slammed the door, and walked up the drive to the house of his friend.  He never looked back.

 

I sat there cold… in the temp and the mood… frustrated that our dialogue had ended so sorely and sourly.

 

What was I to do?

 

For a moment I simply sat there.  Still.  A quick prayer.  Then I called him — but with no more need to argue in my voice nor heart.  “Come back to the car.  Two people who respect one another don’t end a conversation like that.”

 

He wasn’t pleased, yet he returned.  I then explained the following…

 

It’s ok for us to disagree.  In fact, throughout our relationship we will disagree more often; this will happen again.

 

None of us are exactly alike, and thus, none of us think exactly alike.  Two people who love each other tons still will think differently; they will at times disagree.

 

But how we behave when we disagree makes all the difference in the world.

 

Let me be clear:  Son, you are free to disagree with me.  I want you to grow.  I want your convictions to be your own.

 

But when we disagree, you are not free to call me ‘unreasonable,’ ‘ridiculous,’ or ‘extreme.’  Disagreement does not equate to any of those adjectives.

 

The rationale for utilizing those words is because if you can label me as something so negative or wrong or unworthy, then you never have to wrestle with what I say.  You never have to acknowledge that someone you love thinks differently.  And you never have to exert the humility it takes to acknowledge you might not have life all figured out.

 

I realize we think differently, but I am not unreasonable.  I am not ridiculous.  And I am by no means extreme.

 

My tone was gentle but firm.  It was not critical nor judgmental.  My bottom line was that just because we disagree does not give my growing teenage son the freedom to call me something I am not.  Yet then we both had a bit of an “a-ha”…

 

Calling people something that they are not is a practice far too many adults regularly employ.

 

This is not a tactic solely utilized by the American teen.

 

Good people will disagree…

 

… on politics…

… college football loyalties…

… even on the value of quilting, conservation, or “Connect Four.”

 

But when we disagree, we also do not possess the freedom to dismiss the other person as unreasonable, ridiculous, or extreme.  When we do so, we are the ones who look foolish; we are the ones who are stubbornly stuck; and we are the ones who refuse to grow.

 

Respectfully,

AR

driving the vote

In less than 10 days, this election will be over (… thank God, thank God, thank God…).

 

Shall we say it again?  (… thank God, thank God, thank God…)

 

(Note:  I kind of like to thank God.)

 

As previously stated, the Intramuralist will not be endorsing any candidate(s).  Our goal here is to respectfully and authentically tackle the issues — not to tell you who to vote for.

 

One of the issues that matters most to this semi-humble observer is the economy and our national debt.  Allow me to share only facts — absent all analysis…

 

Current national debt:  approximately $16.2 TRILLION

 

If this amount is divided into so-called “fair shares,” the debt amounts to approximately:

  • $52,000 for every person living in the U.S.
  • $136,000 for every household in the U.S.

 

The federal government continues to spend far more than it takes in.  Taxing the highest income earners at 100% does not significantly alter the accounting.  Hence, we borrow from foreign governments.

 

What does the government spend money on?

 

Observing each decade since 1960, as of 2010, 61% of U.S. expenditures are now allocated for “social spending” — our #1 expenditure and the highest this budget category has been in 5 decades.  Social spending includes income security (Social Security, welfare, etc.), healthcare, education, housing, and recreation.  In 1960, only 23% was spent on social spending.

 

During the first 2 years of Pres. Obama’s term — when he enjoyed a partisan majority in both congressional bodies, U.S. congressmen introduced 176 bills that would have reduced spending — but 2,480 bills that would have raised it.

 

[OPINION ALERT!  (Yes, this is a subjective comment…)  It’s far easier for the elect to spend rather than save.]

 

(… back to the objective…)

 

When Pres. Clinton entered office, the national debt was approximately $4.2 TRILLION.  When he left, the debt was $5.7 TRILLION (compared to contemporary presidents, this was one of the lowest nominal & percent increases; in fact, during Clinton’s last year in office, the national debt actually decreased).

 

When Pres. George W. Bush entered office, the national debt was approximately $5.7 TRILLION; when he left 8 years later, the debt was $10.7 TRILLION.

 

When Pres. Obama entered office, the national debt was approximately $10.7 TRILLION; as stated, after only 4 years, the debt is now $16.2 TRILLION.

 

Knowing that this is an issue that no president (save arguably Bill Clinton) has effectively addressed during his tenure, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was established by Pres. Obama.  Out of that commission, the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Debt Plan was proposed.  The plan — named after co-chairs Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, a former Republican senator and Clinton Chief of Staff, respectively — recommended multiple options to reduce our debt.  It has not been enacted.  In fact, over the past 3 years, the federal government has even operated without a budget.  Budgets provide accountability; that is also a fact.

 

The debt continues to soar.  There is no enacted plan to pay it back.  Hence, I return to my previous, subjective comment:  it is far easier to spend rather than save.

 

Is this pattern wise?  Can it be sustained?  If we continue to borrow massively, will our dollar hold value?  And if our dollar loses value, are we capable of even social spending?

 

This impacts the economy.  And yes, this will drive my vote.

 

Respectfully,

AR

 

 

[Utilized sources for this posting:  Congressional Budget Office, U.S. Dept. of the Treasury, U.S. Census Bureau, National Taxpayers Union Foundation, and www.presidentialdebt.org.]

turning off the news

Oh, you’ve felt it, too…

 

Enough of it!  We’re through already!  Politics, schmolitics…

 

I am certain more than just a few of us are sick of the election cycle.  It hasn’t always been this way; it doesn’t have to be this way; and I pray it won’t remain this way.

 

Interestingly, I hear my more conservative-leaning friends blame the current president for this seemingly sad state of affairs.  I hear my more liberal-leaning friends blame his predecessor.  As a semi-humble current events observer (emphasis on the “semi”), I suggest that neither is wholly responsible; each administration has at times embraced divisive rhetoric and employed intentional negativity to pursue their desired end goal, but the Intramuralist’s clear sense is that Presidents Obama and Bush 42 only added to the increasingly, polarized state — a state that has many of us turning off the news, avoiding our Facebook accounts, and wondering how in the world we will unify after one more election.

 

As shared previously amidst these postings, the Intramuralist believes the seeds of polarization were sewn decades ago.  The majority of my belief was discerned when reading, Common Ground, a book co-authored by the very liberal Bob Beckel and very conservative Cal Thomas.  Endorsed by both the now deceased, liberal George McGovern and conservative Jack Kemp, Common Ground encourages each of us to (1) end partisanship, and thus (2) “save America.”  The book is insightful, especially for those of us whose blood continues to boil as we watch the Washington wrangling intensify.

 

Beckel and Thomas contend this corrosive culture began in the 1970‘s.  According to the authors…

 

The size of the federal government grew under both Democratic and Republican presidents.  These new agencies and departments created a substantial increase in government rules and regulations, impacting citizens and businesses alike.  The growth of governments produced cadres of political activists who would descend on Washington, demanding (and getting) access to policy makers.  Activists working for change were countered by an increase in the number of people who worked to protect the status quo.  The result was a tenfold increase in the number of lobbyists and lawyers…

 

Something else happened on Carter’s watch that would feed polarization.  Congress, especially the House, began to change the structure of committees.  Important committees, including Ways and Means and Appropriations, established subcommittees with new chairmen.  New subcommittees meant more staffers and congressional hearings, which meant more lobbyists and special-interest groups would descend on Washington.

 

These activists, lawyers, lobbyists, and special-interest groups possess personal motivations in regard to singular agendas.  Polarization keeps their agenda alive.  The problem is that it also promotes skewed perspective.  Ask Presidents Clinton and Bush 42, who, according to Common Ground, served as “Polarization’s Poster Children.”  Ask Ann Coulter and Arianna Huffington, whose careers have thrived on it.  Ask Rush Limbaugh and David Axelrod, who daily employ it.  Or ask Robert Bork, whose career was derailed by it.  Again, according to our liberal and conservative authors:

 

The Bork battle [Reagan’s 2nd nominee for the Supreme Court] rewrote the rules for future nominees.  No longer were a potential jurist’s qualifications paramount; ideology and personal issues were now fair game.  After Bork, no Supreme Court nominee would be as candid in confirmation hearings as Bork had been.  The Bork defeat, as much as any other event, helped launch a new era of “the politics of personal destruction.”

 

My point this day is that while Obama and Bush have embraced the division — in order to fuel their own election — the intensifying [and dare I suggest, foolish] division was not initiated by either.  They have perhaps used and abused the situation, although it did not start with them.

 

Politics, schmolitics…

 

I’ll go back to turning off the news, avoiding my Facebook account, and yes, wondering how in the world we will unify after this election.

 

Respectfully,

AR

debating the football

Here comes the game again…  the lights are on… the stage is set… this should be interesting… the game of the night… the game of the month…

 

What will the refs be like?  … silent?  … deferring?  … biased?  Let’s hope not.  Replacement moderators just don’t seem all that effective.

 

Ah, blue for one team — red for the other.  Wait — there’s also some pink in there.  It is still October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  The Intramuralist so appreciates how those on center stage still bring attention to someone other than self.

 

Ok, wait… here come the ground rules…  (Mr. Ref, they don’t listen to the rules; haven’t you noticed?  Haven’t you seen all that fighting at the bottom of the pile — all that scrapping and punching and grappling when the mics aren’t on?)

 

There went the coin flip.  The incumbent will go first.  (Nice posture, by the way, gentlemen… although too many stare downs on the line already… kind of creepy… what are they looking at — each other’s helmet?  … tie?)

 

Hmmm… the teams’ staring continues.  Strategists must have said, “You need to look right at the other team.”  Oooh… strategists must have also said, “Don’t look so mad,” but that one’s a little harder.

 

Keep your game face on!  Intimidate them!  But be sure to look confident and strong.

 

“I am strong,” the sigh seemed to say.

 

(Golly, that pronoun “I” came off a little strong there.)

 

Personal foul!  You can’t say that on television!  The world is watching.

 

Lining up again.  Next play.  Next question.  Here we go.

 

They are fighting… they are actually fighting!  Throw the flag!  Throw the flag!!

 

Ooops… there went the flag.  But once again, of course, the teams disagree on who the foul should be on.  They even disagree on what the foul should be about.

 

Unsportsmanlike conduct!  Yes, the whistle blows again.

 

Yikes, he was offsides there.  (Funny how they always deny it.)

 

Quit grabbing!  That’s holding!!

 

15 more yards… or was that seconds?  It’s hard to discern sometimes.

 

I, me, my, myself.

We hear that a lot in this format.  I’m stunned, in fact, at how much these leaders refer to themselves and their plethora of accomplishments.  Hmmm… I would think leadership equates to a little more humility.

 

Geepers… that sure seemed like an illegal block.  Then again, that can only be employed by the moder- – I mean, referee… that is, if the ref gets too involved.

 

A call for leadership… yes, I like that… responsible, ethical, knowledgeable, transparent, courageous, consistent, non-political…  humble, too… oh, wait… they aren’t that good at that.

 

Ah, invoking the name of those who’ve gone before us — those “Hall of Famers,” so-to-speak.  We can almost see the names on the back of the jerseys… J. Kennedy… R. Reagan… yes… invoke those names; it makes us feel better.  They also employ the names they believe will make us think lesser of the other team — or maybe that they’re a little weaker, less effective somehow…  J. Carter… G. Bush  (p.s. I can’t put of their other choice words in print).

 

Hey, teams, have you made any mistakes?  Can you admit it?  What personal fouls will you acknowledge you committed?

 

Are you kidding?!  We only acknowledge fouls that are visible and proven!

 

And that, my friends, is what’s wrong with Monday Night Football… I mean, the presidential debate… I mean, football…

 

Sometimes it’s hard to tell…

 

Respectfully,

AR

missing the coffee shop

I have this friend.

She thinks a little different than me.

She is, in fact, a reader of this blog.  I so appreciate her opinion!

 

But news flash:  her opinion is often different than mine.

 

Many a time my friend and I have met at the local coffee shop.  We have talked and bantered and chilled and sometimes conversed for hours.  Sometimes we’ve just laughed.  We’ve intentionally avoided no issue.  And never have we said, “Ok, we’re just going to have to agree to disagree,” because never has there been an issue we couldn’t talk about.

 

Do we always feel the same?

 

Of course not.

 

But on those issues when she’s felt one way and I’ve felt another, we’ve had the guts and integrity and courage and sincerity to say “tell me why you feel that way.”

 

And then we do this outrageous thing:  we listen.

 

Follow me here…  One of my teenage sons often attempts to tell me he’s actually, truly listening.  “I’m listening!  I hear you.”  To which I typically, semi-humbly retort, “To listen does not mean to simply hear.  To listen means to both hear and consider.”

 

My coffee shop friend and I both hear and consider.

 

The challenge in the way our political system has evolved is that far too many people are discouraging the coffee shop.

 

And even more discouraging is that the people most discouraging of the coffee shop are not people like my friend and me…  it’s not our families nor extended families… it’s not even our friends and social circles.

 

The persons who most discourage the coffee shop conversation?

 

The candidates themselves.

 

The candidates encourage division.  The candidates have something to gain from division.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  The current President of the United States and his primary challenger are intentionally attempting to divide us.  The more they can distinguish their differences and separate themselves from their opponent — the more likely they believe we are to vote for them.  And so they must vehemently frown upon coffee shop meetings.

 

You see the purpose of the coffee shop is to dispel impure notions and intentionally work at understanding different opinion.  Allow me to share a brief example…

 

On Thursday, last week Hollywood actress, Eva Longoria, tweeted to the world that she has “no idea why any woman/minority can vote for Romney.  You have to be stupid to vote for such a racist/misogynistic.”

 

Now let the record show that even though many are passionate in their opinion, there are no facts nor a majority of opinion that prove either Gov. Romney or Pres. Obama are racist or yada yada yada [insert disrespectful name here].  Hence, Ms. Longoria’s opinion is exactly that:  her opinion.  To say she has “no idea” how someone could possess an opinion different than hers tells me one primary thing…

 

Ms. Longoria has never spent time in the coffee shop.

 

How impure and disturbing it is that our candidates discourage what is good; they discourage what is good for their own, self-serving benefit.  That is foolish.

 

With less than 3 weeks until this country takes its next national vote, allow me to encourage what our so-called “leaders” will not… what fair-weathered Facebook friends may not… and what partisan pundits cannot…

 

Meet me at the coffee shop.  Good stuff happens there.

 

Respectfully,

AR

oh! the places you’ll go

(With all due respect to Dr. Seuss, Big Bird, Green Eggs, Ham, the Muppets, etc.)

 

Congratulations!  Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!  You’re off and away!

 

You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.

You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

 

Oh, yes, we’re off to great places.

As some would argue, “There’s no position that’s greater.”

For you see you’ve been chosen

To be the next debate moderator.

 

You’ll look at the topics.  Look ’em over with care.

About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”

With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,

You’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

 

And you may not find any, you’ll want to go down.

In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town.

 

Like Lehrer and Raddatz and CNN’s Candy,

Each who was slammed for being something less than dandy.

Jim was too silent; Martha deferring;

And Crowley on Libyan ambiguity was for some reason confirming.

 

It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do

to people who think they’s so brainy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry.  Don’t stew.

Just go right along.  You’ll start happening, too.

 

But when they talk over their allotted time, as they’ll so obviously do

Please have the guts to tell them to be quiet.  And shoo.

 

Oh, it disturbs me how this system has evolved

Too much money, attack ads — and individual responsibility absolved.

The candidates come in with their pre-determined thoughts

Avoiding the questions, like no always-ethical leader ought.

 

Do they really, truly not comprehend our questions?

Or did their campaign simply have better talking point suggestions?

 

Why do they ramble and talk over time?

Why does no one keep them in line?

 

Yet each partisan camp will declare them the winner

While subtly inferring their opponent is some merciless sinner.

 

Geepers.  Geepers.  Watch out, friend.

To this game of spin there will be no end.

 

Can you believe this election is a bit of a game?

And the partisan camps, they are to blame?

They are divisive and rude — with straight-forward answers too late.

Don’t even get me started on all they exaggerate.

 

Can you believe the winner will our country then direct?

Even though he can’t treat his opponent with respect?

 

But as for this debate, when each finds victory still in doubt,

They’ll shudder and shift…  “It was the moderator!” they’ll shout.

 

OH!

THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

 

Yes, to some place greater…

Hopefully, hopefully…

If you’re not the moderator.

 

Respectfully… always… with a little tongue in cheek…

AR

incivility

Sunday’s top story from the Cincinnati Enquirer was entitled “The Insidious Rise of Rudeness.”  The publication reports…

 

Incivility no longer is just about being annoyed over petulant politicians, road rage, violent behavior at sporting events, intrusive cellphone usage, online abuses or TV shows that move the taste meter ever lower.

 

In a new Enquirer Poll, more than one in seven Greater Cincinnatians say they had experiences so bad over the past year that they actually ended a friendship.

 

Nearly 40 percent have encountered incivility in their day-to-day lives, and about one in five has experienced uncivil conduct in the workplace. More than a quarter admit to having been uncivil themselves, either deliberately or unintentionally.

 

Shocking?

 

The Intramuralist thinks not.

 

We live in an age where disrespect is not indigenous to innocence nor ignorance.  Many adults intentionally employ incivility as a justified response — typically based upon how they feel

 

Such as the football fans in Kansas City who cheered one week ago when their starting (and poor-performing) quarterback lay motionless — with a head injury — on the ground…

 

Such as the sitting Vice President smirking and laughing at his opponent, Paul Ryan, even when the subject was so serious and sobering…

 

Such as the honks, hand-motions, and disrespectful comments or calls we each feel justified to make about other people — again, typically based upon how we feel

 

What’s the cause, dare we ask?

 

According to the Enquirer’s poll, 54% of respondents believe politicians or government officials have been a significant cause; over 50% believe the media has played a negative role; 31% include blame for “ordinary people”; approximately 24% suggest young people are also part of the problem; and near 20% believe celebrities have directly triggered the changes in American incivility.

 

Dare the Intramuralist offer an additional potential cause…

 

Last week we shared some recent polling results from the Pew Research Center.  The article was entitled “Nones on the Rise.”  Within the polling data, we shared that now one-in-five adults identify with no religious affiliation.  As I believe well stated within our online dialogue, it is true that not all of the kindest, most giving people are found within the stereotypical church walls.  Yet there remains a problem.

 

If our adults and young adults are not in church, where do they learn morals and manners and the rules that are so-called “golden”?  Where do they learn about forgiveness and grace and the unconditional love we are to offer one another?  Can we assume that all parents will be teaching that love?  Or do morals and manners and all else that is good simply change with the times, allowing for emotional responses that are seemingly more justified in the moment?

 

… responses such as incivility…

 

I wonder.  I wonder if the insidious rise of rudeness has any correlation with the diminishing respect for religion.  Too much incivility is somehow seemingly justified…  justified by far too many, otherwise intelligent people.

 

Respectfully,

AR

nonverbals

Those who have long been loyal royal watchers will remember the photos…

 

Gone was the seemingly innocent, inner joy.  The smile had faded.  So had the warm glances in her one time prince’s direction.  As her public appearances increasingly lacked her infectious smile and persona, Princess Diana’s body language began to communicate what she couldn’t — wouldn’t — or perhaps didn’t want to verbally articulate.  Her nonverbal behavior conveyed something deeper… something more.  It began to tell us that royal as it was, her marriage was in trouble.  What Diana didn’t say told us more than what she actually did.

 

Nonverbal behavior is perhaps in some sense, a language all its own.  It is at times deeper and at times different than anything spoken.  It is at times more powerful and poignant.  Perhaps it’s why a picture is worth a thousand words.  Nonverbal behavior is a picture that either confirms or contradicts our message.

 

Such as…

 

When JFK, Jr. saluted his father as the coffin passed by him.  Then only 3, John John stepped forward, raising his arm, staring intently.

 

What did his nonverbal behavior convey?

 

An honor and love for his dad.

 

Or when…

 

Since December of 1993 — when LeRoy Butler, who scored after a Reggie White fumble recovery and lateral against the then L.A. Raiders — and later popularized by receiver, Robert Brooks — many Green Bay Packers jump into the end zone stands after scoring a touchdown.  The move is affectionately referred to as the “Lambeau Leap.”

 

What does this nonverbal behavior convey?

 

A joy and celebration of the points scored.

 

Or when…

 

The tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square in June of 1989.  As Chinese protestors were being forcibly removed by the Communist government, an anonymous man positioned himself in the middle of the street as the tanks approached.  He stood still directly in the armored vehicles’ path, waving at the tanks with 2 shopping bags.

 

What did his nonverbal behavior convey?

 

A courage and coming in peace.

 

Last week at the vice-presidential debate in Danville, Kentucky, much post-debate commentary on both the news networks and social media centered not around substance — which both candidates significantly offered — but instead on the nonverbal behavior of the current vice president.

 

Granted, for some reason, the U.S. continues to elect vice-presidents who have some extremely prominent quirk (regardless of party affiliation) that makes many question the leader’s actual credibility.  For yes, on this night, VP Joe Biden laughed heartily, repeatedly, and consistently when Rep. Paul Ryan was speaking.  It was odd.  The most unusual aspect from the Intramuralist’s perspective was that Biden laughed out loud and smiled hugely even when the subject was as sobering as people out of work or Iran building a nuclear bomb.

 

What did his nonverbal behavior convey?

 

What couldn’t he, wouldn’t he, or didn’t he want to verbally articulate?  Was his nonverbal communication more powerful and poignant?  Did it confirm or contradict his message?  And I wonder if what Joe Biden didn’t say tells us more than what he actually did.

 

Great questions.  I can’t tell.

 

Respectfully,

AR