Will we ever be civil again?

Published 6:04 am Friday, November 2, 2018


Contributing columnist

There’s something happening here

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What it is ain’t exactly clear

There’s a man with a gun over there

Telling me I got to beware

– Stephen Stills

It has been a hard couple of weeks. Two of our Kentucky citizens were murdered by a man with a gun who didn’t like the color of their skin.

A mom in New Jersey, who has three beautiful children who happen to have darker skin than their mom, was harassed by a man on social media to the point that she called her local police. She then contacted police in Anderson County because the man with the gun lived in Lawrenceburg. Her actions thwarted a potential school shooting.

Eleven innocent people in Pittsburg were murdered while they prayed because the man with the gun didn’t like their religion or ancestry. In his demented mind, he thought these citizens were somehow responsible for the caravan of Central Americans who want asylum in our country.

There was a time when politics were local. What happened in Washington, D.C. and even in Frankfort didn’t seem to have a direct effect on our daily lives. There was a time when most of us had no idea with what political party our friends, neighbors, and even family, aligned.

With social media and the 24 hour news cycle as close as our fingertips, those days are gone.

We are a country divided by the politics of fear.

At some point in my varied career, I learned that the health of an organization points to its leader. Businesses, communities, churches, non-profits, schools, all take on the leadership personality of their leaders.

When the leader is confident, individuals within the organization have the capacity to go about their day with a certain level of autonomy and balance. Confident leaders listen and are not afraid to take advice from their people. They lead with their head and their heart, making decisions that are best for the organization as a whole.

When the leader is weak and unsure, individuals work in constant stress and frustration, not sure what event will upset the current fragile balance of the moment. Weak leaders think they have all of the answers and listen to no one. They lead with their ego, which make their decisions about them and not at all about the organization.

Our country is currently being led by an ego. He rails against people who don’t have the same skin color, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or national origin. Since there is no check on what he says from his people, he can literally say anything. Facts mean nothing to him if they don’t incite the roar of a crowd.

If we use the previous business leader analogy, the fear and ego has filtered down from Trump to other campaigns. Andy Barr’s campaign ads use images of Amy McGrath, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, an “illegal immigrant” and sound bites that fuel fear. A democratic PAC has a commercial that encourages fear of Republicans being elected. Additionally, our governor, Matt Bevin, calls educators idiots and selfish.

I was out campaigning last week for a non-partisan candidate. Twice I was asked to what party the candidate belonged. I explained that it was a non-partisan seat and that it was a non-partisan body. One man became so incensed that I finally had to walk away. It was extremely upsetting, especially because of the non-partisan nature of the candidate.

Then there’s Facebook and Twitter. I enjoy a good anti-Mitch McConnell meme as much as right-wingers enjoy Barack Obama being Muslim. I also have the capacity to step away and separate the fake world of social media from my reality. The men who killed innocents in Louisville and Pittsburgh clearly didn’t have this ability; neither did the man who sent pipe bombs across the nation.

Our country needs a heroine or hero. We need leaders from both sides of the aisle to stand up to the fear, hate, and lies that come from The Ego. We need Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi to stand together with members of Congress to condemn these acts of hate that are carried out on American citizens. We need our state leaders, Robert Stivers, Damon Thayer and Ray Jones, to denounce the governor’s rhetoric.

Until that happens, we must be our own heroines and heroes. We do this by voting.

Please use your Constitutionally guaranteed right. Show up at your polling place Tuesday, Nov. 6, and cast your ballot. It’s our most powerful weapon.

Be a heroine or a hero for our community, our state, and our country.