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A Plea for Civility

Iowa Senators liberal Tom Harkin and conservative Chuck Grassley in an earlier and more civil age

Yesterday I posted an article comparing John F. Kennedy’s signature goal of putting a man on the moon with Donald Trump’s signature goal of building a wall between the US and Mexico. It was a dispassionate, apolitical, and 100% factual comparison of two very different types of goals, drawing a lesson for personal goal-setting.

I was saddened by some of the angry and downright hateful responses I received. I was told to “stay in my lane” and stick to writing only motivational articles. As founder of a company called Values Coach, I consider the values reflected by the leaders of our nation, no matter their political party, to be in my lane.

I was accused of not caring for the lives of victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants, and even of being unpatriotic because I had the temerity to criticize one of the goals of our nation’s President. The day questioning or criticizing a President’s goal is unpatriotic is the day we cease to be the United States of America envisioned by the men who framed our Constitution.

There is a very good reason that the Founding Fathers of our nation put the First Amendment at the top of the list when drafting the Bill of Rights. As a nation, we lose something precious – something that for more than two centuries has made America a great nation – when we can no longer have civil conversations about things that truly matter.

As human beings, our lives are diminished when we lack the humility to say things like “I had not thought of it that way” or “I could be wrong, you could be right.”

Nations, and organizations become great when they encourage healthy debate within. They atrophy when what should be opinions become scleroticized into cast-in-stone principles that create black-or-white, right-or-wrong dichotomies.

I do not know whether a wall is the best solution to keep illegal immigrants from entering our country. I do, however, believe that the invisible walls which prevent us from being able to have a civil discourse about that wall is the greater danger.

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