March 4, 2017, Camp Verde- I began the day, helping with a Red Cross Home Safety activity, in a neighbourhood near the main fire station, in this town that lies over the Black Mountains and some forty-five miles east of Prescott. We worked with town firemen, installing smoke detectors along a street that abuts the fire station. As I had done a similar task, late last year, in Sedona, the event today went very smoothly. The firemen are also past masters at installing the devices, which made it smoother still.
After that, I took a couple of hikes, one along the Verde River, at Clear Creek Day Use Area and the other in Copper Canyon, which lies southwest of Camp Verde. More about each of those, tomorrow.
Today, though, comes the matter of civility. We have, before us, a sitting President accusing his immediate predecessor of conducting surveillance on his signature office building and residence, during the brouhaha that masqueraded as an election campaign. Said predecessor, speaking through his aides, denies the accusations. Time, and investigation, will, of course show who is being truthful here.
We are in the throes of incivility, and have been, for some time now. Consider: It was four years ago, last December, that 26 people were slain in an elementary school. Two days after the carnage, unknown militants threatened to kill both the survivors of those victims AND a man who had taken other children into his home, and reunited them with their parents. The trolls were insisting that all the above were part of a Federal conspiracy to confiscate weapons from private citizens. Never mind that seven of those families were headed by members of the National Rifle Association, and owned weapons.
Consider: Survivors, loved ones, of American military heroes, have been, and are still being, attacked by uncivil people-of both Alt-Right ( in the case of the Khan family) and Far-Left (in the case of Karenn Owens) political bent.
Consider: Trash-talking by adults about, and towards, children is almost de rigeur, online and in the check-out lines of stores; in public and, no doubt, in trusting private. Children have been treated like mini-adults, by the media, for some time (Children of colour, in particular, are most often referenced by surname, in the mainstream media). Many parents, citing “freedom of speech”, are following suit.
The way adults treat one another is often little better; thus, the reverse role models, who give kids the notion that no level of profanity, no level of insult, is too extreme. To the innocent mind, this seems like a perfectly acceptable way to be taken seriously, and thus, filth streams out of many children’s mouths.
I was raised to be civil, and I know I am far from alone. Anonymity is cited as the reason for road rage, Internet trolling, stalking, and bullying of all stripes. It is not valid. We can see those at whom we honk horns or flip the bird, and whose vehicles we tailgate or cut off. We can read the responses, see the fear or sadness of those we attack on social media. We can feel the trepidation and notice the unease of those we try to intimidate. The bully knows what is being done.
It all goes back to our self-image. If, deep down, one doesn’t feel he/she matters, then no one else matters, either. The fact is, each of us does matter, or we wouldn’t be here. Each of us does have a mandate to be civil- regardless of the false mirrors we see on television, in the movies, on stage and the messages we hear on radio or see online. Each of us could learn from those whose opinions differ from ours, because each of us has a portion of the truth, within our psyches.
Each of us could choose to be civil.