There has been a great deal of rhetoric lately, in the news, in the media, on Facebook shouted in the streets – from individuals and from groups, pro and anti, expressing our diverse ideologies. Fascism and white nationalism and communism and socialism and millenialism (not sure that is a word, but you get the point) and cronyism and Nazism….

Few of those voices have been calm and rational. Far too many voices have been SCREAMING obscenities and threats and racial slurs and hatespeak. Yesterday, we were throwing rocks at store windows. Today, it's throwing the engine into overdrive and charging headlong into the crowd. Tomorrow? Throwing bombs? Even world leaders are playing verbal Russian Roulette. God, help us !

There is also a great deal of blame thrown around out there. And that blame is also being voiced in harsh, insultingly offensive terms. It's the fault of the damn Republicans or the @#$%^(*&^%$#* conservatives or the moronic right, the demonic left, the demented, satanic, unAmerican, neo-neurotic, spineless, Pollyanna…. And the voice of reason is nowhere to be found.

I will staunchly defend your right to your opinion. Even if your thoughts are diametrically opposed to mine. I am ashamed of those colleges and universities who claim they are protecting their students by disallowing guest speakers and professors who express a challenging point of view, lest they melt a snowflake or two. A narrow-minded point of view is a major contributor to many of the societal problems we are faced with today. Narrow mindedness is a hand-in-hand companion to ignorance.

We need to teach more critical thinking skills – for so many reasons. We need to be better able to recognize false advertising and fake news and the flaws in someone's ideology. And most importantly, the flaws in our own thinking. I know that's a tough one, but I will never be able to see the holes in my own point of view until I can listen, calmly and rationally, to your perspective. I wrote in a previous column about freedom, “If I were writing this column from a prison cell, I would define freedom differently than you do. If you were writing this column from the confines of your wheelchair, you would see the world and its freedoms from a vastly different perspective than I do. If an angry teenager in a war-torn village in the Middle East were writing this column, we might not recognize the definition at all.”
Our strength as a nation lies in our differences. We need astronauts and zoologists, farmers and fishermen, ditch diggers and dreamers, accountants and barbers and chocolatiers, dentists, evangelists…. And we need their diverse ideologies to keep us on our toes, keep us thinking, keep us from settling into a rut, keep us hopeful that one of them will finally build a better mousetrap, and then form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty….

And we must figure out a way to stop the hate. Hate has NEVER fixed anything. We must agree that once in a while we are going disagree. We can all agree that there are some serious problems in our country – serious enough to generate hate. I hate the idea. that there is so much corruption in our government. I hate the fact that income is not taxed equitably. I hate the way we fawn over celebrities and disrespect those who have put their lives on the line for our freedom. I hate that the government – and the media – encourage all these distractions that divide us, so that no one will notice when bills are passed which benefit those already wealthy and cut benefits for those truly in need. I could offer a rather long list of inequities and injustices that I hate. But hatingthese problems does not fix them. Yes, I need to take a stand. Yes, I need to speak my mind.
 'In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I should be another voice in the wildness. I should speak, and then listen to what you have to say. You live here, too. Your opinion is not more or less important than mine. Until, of course, you start screaming and hating and throwing things.

Peace be with you, my friends.
Again I say, pray for peace.