Give Us the Same Courtesy That We Gave You

The first paragraph of this article is here for a very specific reason. To promote the article on social media I had to make sure that there was no political speech in the first couple of lines so that it wouldn’t be censored. The original started here:

Democrats now control the White House and both chambers of Congress.  They are calling for unity, but what they mean by that is, “Now everybody needs to agree with us.”  That is not going to happen.  I am not saying that in an obstinate way.  I’m just being realistic and honest.  People disagree and that is alright.  Republicans were in charge for the last four years and many people disagreed with them, and I expected that as well because that is how life works. 

This leads me to my one request to Democrats.  Now that you’re in charge please give us the same courtesy that we gave to you when we were.  That courtesy is this:  When people disagree with you, don’t force them to do what you want. 

This may surprise some of you after being told by the media for four years that President Trump was a fascist dictator, but I cannot think of anything that he forced us to do during his term.  If you disagreed with President Trump and the Republicans, they did not make you do anything against your will.  Republicans let people agree to disagree.  

If, for example, you disagreed with the tax cuts that were passed, Republicans did not force you to go along with it.  They implemented no penalties for people who wanted to keep paying the higher tax rates voluntarily.  Yes, you can do that.  Surprisingly, wealthy Democrats who complain that rich people don’t pay their fair share do not opt to pay more themselves when given that choice.  Alright, maybe not so surprisingly.

Ultimately, this is the main thing that Republicans want:  to be left alone.  We want to control our own lives and let others control theirs.  Another example; we may understand that homosexuality is immoral, but we do not block people from the practice.  In fact, the Trump administration started a global effort to end the criminalization of homosexuality.  (In contrast, Democrats kowtow to countries like Iran who put homosexuals to death.)  Republicans also disagree with divisive groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter, yet do not want them prevented from speaking or kicked off of social media.  Another Republican belief is that God is central to the American way of life and necessary for our success, but we do not want to require church attendance.  In other words, Republicans would like everybody to act in particular ways but think that people should be free to choose for themselves.

This approach is not a new one.  It is actually one of the principles that our country was established on.  Our Founding Fathers were wise men who understood that people would not always agree as to what should be done.  They also knew that throughout history, when the powerful forced those who disagreed with them to conform to their will it sowed contempt, division and conflict.  Their solution was liberty.  If one group wants to do “A” and another group wants to do “B,” the answer is not to have the group in power force the other group to do what they command.  Instead, the first group can do “A” and the second group can do “B.”  They can try to use persuasion to win the other side over but they should not use coercion.

If Joe Biden really wants unity this is what he should do.  Refrain from taking away our liberty.  Allow people to have free will and do what they think is best for themselves.  He can disagree with our choices but he should not overrule them.  Here are ten great suggestions that the Democrats can do to respect the liberty of Americans:

  1. If you decide to raise taxes, make it optional to pay the old rate like the Republicans did for you. 
  2. If you want people to wear masks, make it optional like the Republicans did.
  3. Let scared restaurant owners who want to shut down do so, and let the ones who want to remain open choose to do that.  If patrons want to show up they can but if they are afraid they should also be free to stay home.
  4. Let churches decide whether to remain open or close down.  If congregants do not want to attend they should not be forced to, but those who do should be allowed in.
  5. President Trump stopped enforcement of the Johnson Amendment, which threatens to take away tax-exempt status from churches if the pastor endorses a political candidate.  Continue with that policy and allow pastors to decide for themselves what to say from the pulpit without threat of retaliation from the government.
  6. If somebody wants health insurance that covers pregnancy and drug rehabilitation they should be allowed to purchase it.  If another person wants less expensive insurance that does not cover those things they should be allowed to choose that.  If someone else prefers to pay out of pocket for medical care instead of buying insurance they should be able to do that.
  7. Do not force law abiding citizens to buy guns.  Likewise, do not prohibit them from buying guns.
  8. If someone wants to do a job for $8 per hour, do not prohibit them from doing so and force them out of a job.  Let people decide for themselves what wage to accept.
  9. Do not force people who are against murdering babies to pay for the murder of babies.  Do not use taxpayer money for Planned Parenthood.
  10. Refrain from banning or restricting us from using certain products like incandescent light bulbs, straws, grocery bags, soda, and shower heads with good water pressure.

These are all things that Democrats have tried to dictate in the past.  If they truly want unity this list would be a solid first step.  Instead of using tyrannical power to control those of us who disagree with them, try going back to our founding vision of liberty.  It’s the least they can do after Republicans did it for them the last four years. 

Don’t Be Offended Unless Offense is Intended

In the iconic television series Star Trek, Captain Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the Enterprise crew would travel to new planets, beam down to the surface, and learn about their societies.  Spock was from the planet Vulcan, and most of us know the Vulcan greeting that he often used, “Live long and prosper.”  We as Americans should consider what saying space visitors would associate with us if they beamed down to the United States today.  Our national motto is technically “In God We Trust,” but unfortunately there is another statement that seems far more common in our country today.  “I am offended.”

The list of things that people in America find offensive is endless.  I don’t even think our alien visitors would enjoy being here because of the eggshells we have to walk on to avoid public shaming or worse.  Even using the word “alien” is now considered offensive by some.  This constant state of feeling offended not only makes that person unbearable to be around, but it makes them less happy.  Imagine how much joy it would take out of life if you went to a comedy show and instead of finding the jokes funny you found them offensive.

I have good news for you, though.  There is a solution to being offended all the time.  Simply choose not to be offended.  Yes, you heard me right.  Being offended is a choice.  I have even come up with a saying to help me decide whether or not I should feel offended.  Don’t be offended unless offense is intended. 

Notice I did not say that you should never be offended.  There are certainly times when you should be.  If somebody purposely impugns your character, their intent was to offend you.  If somebody calls you a loser then you should take offense.  My little proverb is meant to keep you from wasting your time, energy, and likeability on complaining about jokes, harmless comments, or even things that you disagree about.  People should be able to disagree with each other and not feel offended. 

The problem today is that people go around looking for things to find offensive.  There are women who feel offended if a man opens a door for her.  There are people who are offended by the Mark Twain classic Huckleberry Finn.  There are even people who are offended by a new television show on ABC about girls getting kidnapped on a highwaybecause the girls who get kidnapped are not Indians.  Using my rule none of those examples should be offensive because an offense was not intended. 

There is now a term for these types of offenses.  They call them microaggressions.  The psychologist who popularized the term, Dr. Derald Wing Sue, even explained in a video that “Microaggressions occur because they are outside the level of conscious awareness of the perpetrator.”   That means that not only does the perpetrator not intend to offend you, but that you would have to explain to them why you’re offended.  If you often find yourself having to explain why you are offended that probably means your pain is self-inflicted. 

Let’s put my advice into practice and try some examples to test if we should be offended by them. 

Example #1:  Somebody says “Merry Christmas” to you.  You are not a Christian.

Response:  Do not be offended.  Their intention was to be nice.

Example #2:  Somebody asks you for help on a math problem.  You are Asian.

Response:  Do not be offended.  Maybe they weren’t thinking about your race.  Maybe they were.  It doesn’t matter.  The intent was to get a math problem right.

Example #3:  Your friend Fred sits next to you at a blackjack table.  The dealer calls him “sir” without learning his gender identity first.

Response:  Do not be offended.  The intent was to politely address him.  Oops.  I just said “him” without realizing it.

Example #4:  Somebody says that “All lives matter.”

Response:  Do not be offended.  I doubt that their intention was to say that anybody’s life doesn’t matter.  Thus the word all.

Example #5:  Somebody says that you can be put into a basket of deplorables.

Response:  You can be offended because calling somebody deplorable is certainly intended to impugn their character.

Now you have a guideline to go by, so the next time you see a George Washington statue, you should be able to fight the urge to cry and tear it down.  You know that the intent of the statue was not to brag that he owned slaves.  Choose not to be offended.  Hopefully, this advice will help the United States become a more pleasant place for our visitors from space.  If instead, you choose to remain constantly offended, Mr. Spock will probably find you highly illogical.