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It’s time we got back to being a civilized society

What happened to civility in our world?

Why can’t we have an intelligent discussion about issues without yelling, name-calling and threats or the execution of violence?

There was once a time when people could sit down and discuss an issue intelligently. Yes, there might be a few heated exchanges during the discussion but at the end of the discourse, the opposing sides retained their composure, shook hands or waved and left without a black eye, bloody nose or puffy lip. In short, at the end, everyone agreed to disagree and either went their separate ways or went together to a restaurant for a meal or a drink — the crisis passed, the discussion over — friends again.

Televised debates, whether between two or more candidates or two or more pundits on opposing sides are no longer the dignified “let’s discuss the issues” events they once were. They’ve become shouting matches where the participants try to see who can talk the loudest or who can insult or get under the skin of another participant the fastest.

Where is the civility? Where is the courtesy toward the other person?

It’s gotten to the point where I no longer watch debates or any of the news talk shows because of the behavior of the participants. I long for a debate like the Kennedy-Nixon debates where the candidates discussed and demonstrated their grasp of the issues. It was dignified, intelligent. Why can’t that happen now?

When I talk with people I try to avoid two topics — politics and religion — because I’ve learned that nothing brings out the “mean” in someone more than those two subjects. They are also two topics where a lot of people display their ignorance. I won’t go into religion because it’s a complex issue. I’ll discuss politics.

One of the biggest problems with politics is the way people throw the terms “liberal” and “conservative” around like children calling each other names. There is a definition for both philosophies, but I’ll be darned if I can remember what they are anymore. But there was a time when those terms were once philosophies that meant something, and if you dug down very deep you would find they had quite a few things in common.

The same with the political parties, though right now the leadership and members of both have messed their respective parties up with so many different ideologies neither side has basic policy except to pander to one group or another.

What we need is a third political party that stands for the ideals in the Declaration of Independence and the laws of the Constitution.

There was a time when I closely followed national events and enjoyed watching news programs. I don’t do that anymore, at least not in the way I once did.

What I want to see is an intelligent, sane and informed conversation where issues are discussed calmly and in a dignified manner. It’s time we got back to being civilized people and become the intelligent species we’re supposed to be.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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