Friday, February 3, 2012

Our world could use more compassion

The heart of our world has hardened in recent years, and it looks like this situation will get worse before it gets better. I hope this is not the case, but when studying the attitudes of many around us, I am not optimistic.

This has manifested itself in many ways. The current political campaign has blossomed into a full-scale blood bath. Despite pledges by the leading candidates to take the high road, campaign debate has often sunk into accusations about a candidate’s personal life.

While that type of analysis may have a minor place in the campaign, it is often a cheap excuse for one candidate to earn some headlines at the expense of others.

We see this lack of compassion in other ways. The world of sports certainly sees this play out. For example, consider the plight of San Francisco 49ers' player Kyle Williams in the recent NFC championship game.

Williams committed two turnovers that led to 10 points for the New York Giants as the Giants advanced to Sunday’s Super Bowl. How did loyal 49ers' fans repay Williams for his mistakes?

While some were supportive of him, others stooped about as far as people can go. Within 24 hours of the game, Williams had received at least two death threats. We all know the sting of our favorite team losing a big game, but has it come to the point where death threats are a legitimate form of self-expression?

Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more of this. It should be noted the threats against Williams came through social media. While outlets like Internet message boards and fan pages are great in some respects, they often serve as an opportunity to allow yahoos to boast cowardly threats.

Seriously, how much bravery does it take to post an anonymous threat on-line? Not much, but this is how more and more people express themselves. I would like to think that the threats against Williams were just a sick joke done by punk kids, but one never knows.

Williams and others like him are learning a painful lesson about what can happen when the court of public opinion turns negative. Unfortunately, America has become a 'what have you done for me lately?' kind of society.

People who have been put up on pedestals find themselves knocked to the ground with breathtaking speed. And, as we all know, when someone is knocked to the ground that is when people start kicking.

Though there should be plenty of room for criticism in our society, it appears we are having more and more problems when determining how much is enough. We appear to enjoy getting in people’s faces, and some of us relish the opportunity to heap the pain on others.

We are all guilty of this to a certain extent. We react emotionally to a situation and sometimes find ourselves wanting to stuff our words back in our mouths as soon as they have been spoken.

However, the thread of cruelty that has entered public discourse should make us all pause and think. This is especially true when discussing the lives of public figures.

Who would want to be a public figure these days? Not me. We are a nation of arm-chair quarterbacks who have all the answers yet many of us cannot be bothered to actually serve our nation and those around us.

Maybe this is just good, old fashioned cynicism. It is easy to be a cynic, but we should all understand that we have too much of that already.

Let's watch our mouths a little. We can be critical without tearing each others throats out.

Can't we?

No comments: