What Happened to the Respect We Had for Each Other?

While discussing Joe Wilson’s outburst during the President’s most recent address, I said this:

There is an increasing problem with pure animosity towards the opposing party in this country. it’s no longer, “I respectfully disagree,” it’s, “I disagree and you’re an asshole for thinking something different.”

I think most people can vouch for that. There is so much hatred between opposing parties now. There is mud slinging, and name calling, and no one cares to listen to the other side. Quite different from how we were thinking just 8 years ago.

I remember the day perfectly.

A lot of people remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when the planes hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. I was in high school- a junior to be exact. Our school kept us in the dark- though in one homeroom, the teacher accidentally flipped on the TV to a scene of the towers smoking. I got called out of school early, the teacher who came to get me looking distraught and said a family member was there to pick me up.

When it was a family friend was there, I feared a death in my family. I came to realize what had happened transcended my immediate family and affected people I had a special kinship as US citizens. I went to my grammar school where my mother worked at the time; she wanted all of her boys in the same place. My friend Amy and I were following the news online…the first time we really used the internet to stay current with events. But this is all besides my point.

I also remember the unity we felt

We remember where we were, but we don’t remember how we felt towards each other. We were able to forget the partisan bickering- President Bush had a 96% approval rating, I’m guessing purely out of respect for his office. It’s quite different now.

The left have called for his execution! A comedian recently compared him to an “ass raping demon.” The right said Ted Kennedy dying was a good thing, and I feel our own representatives don’t respect the office of the President as they once did. This is illustrated by the Dems booing President Bush at the 2005 State of the Union, and Joe Wilson’s outburst during President Obama’s health care address in 2009.

A 2019 Addendum

I wrote this 10 years ago. Here’s how I closed it:

Eight years ago the world respected us because we were united. We came together when we really needed to. Now (even with Obama as president), the world does not. We are so polarized and there is hatred for people who think differently from us. Those people are ‘stupid’ and ‘ignorant.’ John McCain recently told a story about how he and Ted Kennedy were screaming at each other on the Senate floor, fighting for what they felt was right on issues they cared about; afterwards, they had their arms around each other, off to grab food and a drink. What happened to that?

18 years after 9/11, and 10 years after I wrote this post, things haven’t gotten better. They’ve gotten worse. The country feels more divided than ever. The Right is moving more to the right. The Left, more to the left. There’s no civil discourse (seemingly).

Maybe it’s the vocal minority we’re hearing. Maybe we really do have respect for each other. I’ve certainly experienced it with friends I disagree with politically. Perhaps if we long for that unity…the unity that came from a country altering tragedy…we need to prop up the good.

I’ll make more of an effort. I hope you do too.