Can’t we all just get along?

There’s a lot of thoughts going through my mind as I type this post. I really hope I can string together something that will stick to our main topic today, but it might be tough because I’m not sure where to even start dissecting the problem. I’m not going to be witty with this introduction. A bunch of republicans were shot up by some nutcase Bernie supporter this past week. Representative Scalise is still day-to-day on his recovery, and the media has moved on to continue their report on the completely fake “Russia” scandal. I am not one of those people who can simply move on from this politically motivated crime, and it has me truly worried about the state of politics in this country. Can we ever come back to a point where we can just tolerate each other for our different political beliefs?

Now don’t think I’m turning into some hippy over here. I’m still a conservative, and I’ll continue to criticize liberal ideals that I find far-fetched. However, I will never try to prevent a person from expressing their liberal views. I will never try to target a person simply because he or she didn’t vote for the same candidate that I did. I will never try to incite violence against non-conservatives. I will never do any of these things simply because they are not moral things to do. Every person has a right to live their life in the best way that he or she can, so long as it is not detrimental to the well-being of another. It is this spirit of individuality that continues to make us all unique from one another and allows us to continue fostering progress for our species through the exchange of different ideas and philosophies. That’s how this wonderful nation was formed in the first place. Where has that spirit gone?

I don’t know the answer to that question. Frankly, I wish we could return to a state of healthy debate. If everything was completely conservative, we would lose that sense of empathy for the suffering of others. If everything was completely liberal, the government would hold the ultimate sway over its people and their livelihoods. We cannot hope to improve our society by blaming the other side and refusing to come to the other side. However, it seems that the media wants us to move away from that ideal. Facebook got in trouble a few years back for encouraging its news team to push conservative articles to bottom of their “Top News” list. Buzzfeed lost all credibility when it published a false report during the campaign that was meant to scandalize Trump. CNN continues to push a fake Russia collusion story that is now seven months in the making with no solid evidence. As opposed to reporting on facts, these media sources use their coverage to push agendas. Anything that would oppose the reports is ignored or under-reported. If you’re a conservative, the big-time media sources are not your friend.

Hell, it seems that if you’re a conservative in today’s America, you’re just a target. Don’t believe me? Shakespeare in the Park put on a wonderful production of “Julius Caesar” over the weekend where the role of Caesar was played by a Donald Trump lookalike. Nothing says “art” quite like the stabbing of a live Trump effigy. Don’t be too concerned though. The production company assured everyone that this play was not meant to incite violence against the President. That’s a relief. Well, looks like the theater isn’t a good place to go. Maybe a conservative like myself should just stick to pro-Trump rallies. Hopefully ANTIFA doesn’t show up. You know, ANTIFA? The group that dresses all in black, wears masks, and takes pride in beating up those crazy right-wingers. Their attacks on pro-Trump marches have had varying degrees of “success” in terms of damage to persons and property. I’m sure they’re all good people who are up for a healthy debate after they try to set your MAGA hat on fire.

Don’t take this piece as a condemnation of liberals. I have plenty of liberal friends and know that most people’s political views will not suddenly cause them to stop treating their fellow man with respect and dignity. Rather, I’m writing this post to try to say that politics isn’t and shouldn’t be the only thing we use to judge each other’s worth. Disagreement is a healthy thing, so long as it does not become toxic. I think what we’re seeing in this country is a media that is furthering the divide between liberal and conservative through its malicious and opinion-driven reporting. They want to see toxic disagreement because it’s good for business. Everyone loves a little drama after all.

If you’re reading this, I urge you not to get caught up in the media hype. If you’re truly passionate about political beliefs, then ask yourself why you believe or don’t believe in certain ideals, and don’t use the same answer that some media pundit gave. Furthermore, ask yourself if you are able to accept anyone who has an idea that goes against yours. If you are incapable of accepting a differing opinion, then look inwardly. The problem may not be the politician. It may be you. And if you really think that violence against your fellow citizens will solve your political grievances, then just go see your local counselor.

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Ignorance 101

With graduation season upon us, I’d like to say congrats to all of the members of the class of 2017. I hope you all find success in your future endeavors and learn from the many mistakes you’ll make on your respective journeys. In keeping with this theme of graduating, I’d like to bring everyone’s attention to what happened at Notre Dame’s commencement ceremony this past weekend. As I’m sure you’re all aware, Vice President Mike Pence was asked to give the commencement speech to the graduating seniors and shortly after his speech began, a decent sized group of students decided that they would walk out on their own graduation ceremony. Of course, your typical left-leaning media outlets made sure to get video and portrayed them as true patriots. I made the mistake of looking at the Facebook comments attached to one of the circulating videos and of course the majority response was that these students were so brave for protesting the monster that the media knows as Mike Pence. It’s too bad that after all the years spent at school studying and socializing, these kids still haven’t learned a damn thing about the real world.

I remember the commencement speaker at my college graduation. He wasn’t some hotshot celebrity or world leader. He was a successful businessman who started his own network security company. I wasn’t blown away by the speech. To tell you the truth, I thought it was a little long-winded, but I still listened. Why? Because this guy created something great from his own mind and ingenuity. He had the drive to take a risk, make mistakes, learn from said mistakes, and create something better than he had originally envisioned. Isn’t that the type of guy you would want to hear from when you’re about to set foot into the real working world? Even if you’re only half-listening to that kind of speech, your ears will have to hear at least one line that will stop and make you think about your own future. When you’re a graduating senior leaving the safety net that is school, you need all the inspirational lines you can get. So Notre Dame steps up to the plate and gets the freaking Vice President to deliver that note of inspiration. Mike Pence holds the second highest office in the land, so I would assume he has a few stories of triumphs and failures that could be used to impart wisdom on young minds. As opposed to setting aside their political views for one minute to perhaps gain a nugget of knowledge they didn’t posses yet, some students made the selfish decision to leave and demonstrate their own terrible ignorance and arrogance.

I’m not criticizing the action of walking out. As I’ve stated in my previous posts, I believe wholeheartedly in the first amendment. However, an action like this is so dumb that I have to question if these students learned anything at all. College is supposed to be a place of higher learning. This is the place where people and ideas of all varying backgrounds and convictions interact with one another. Old ideas are challenged. New insights are obtained. Perhaps a new world view is born. Perhaps an old one is better justified. And yet, colleges are no longer encouraging this kind of behavior. They are saying that only certain ideas are allowed. If someone challenges your view, you are no longer expected to defend it. Now you can just claim the opposing viewpoint as hate speech and retreat to one of many convenient “safe spaces” that your campus has set up. This kind of action is not helping these students grow. It’s merely demonstrating to them that it’s perfectly okay to block out any viewpoints you don’t like. If you don’t believe me, look at what happened at UC Berkeley when Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter tried coming to town. The students rioted and used the visits as an excuse to damage property and attack Trump supporters. They committed felonies simply because they didn’t like what these polarizing conservative speakers had to say. But here’s the catch. Neither person even got to speak! How can you protest (riot) against a viewpoint that you haven’t even heard yet? With behavior like this, it is obvious that some of the students leaving colleges today are simply overgrown children. They are ignorant to the viewpoints that go against their own philosophies and when one of these opposing viewpoints directly confronts them, they choose to throw hissy fits in the form of riots, protests, and labeling certain views as hate speech.

Mike Pence spoke for one minute before some Notre Dame students started to file out. I watched the film and unless I saw a doctored copy, it seems that in that first minute, Pence only did the typical introduction stuff. What did he say that was so horrible that some students couldn’t bear to listen to the rest of the speech? Oh, CNN’s telling me he’s just a monster. Now I understand. These students should be ashamed of themselves. They are so caught up in their own philosophies and have never been told that some of their philosophies are wrong. They’ve only been coddled when they’ve been challenged on their beliefs. The real world doesn’t care about feelings. It cares about your contributions. My fear for this group of students is that they are so out of touch with opposition that when they face it for the first time, they will not be able to cope. Colleges are not doing any favors by encouraging comfort when debate is a better option. If we truly want a great nation, we need input from everybody. Viewpoints must be debated. Negotiations must be made. That is how we make progress. Silencing the opposition is not productive.

To those students who sat through Mike Pence’s address, I thank you. Thank you for actually trying to learn one last lesson from a successful American before you venture out on your own. To those students of the liberal variety who stuck around, I thank you even more. Thank you for not trying to be cool and edgy by walking out of your own commencement ceremony simply because you didn’t like who was talking. Thank you for listening to another viewpoint that may have clashed with yours. You are the type of students that still make me hopeful for the next generation. To the students who chose to walk out, it seems you have learned nothing at all. When opposition comes calling, you choose to walk away as opposed to putting your own philosophies to the test. Ignorance to conservative viewpoints may be cool in college, but probably won’t get you too far in the working world. I have one last suggestion to these students. If you’re planning to go out to eat to celebrate your graduation, make sure to ask for a kid’s menu. You’re not mature enough for the adult one yet.

The smugness of a “good” Christian

Hey everyone, thanks for all the feedback on my previous post. I hope you and yours had a wonderful Easter. This week, I read an article that my local paper published and it just really rubbed me the wrong way. Here’s the link so we can all be on the same page:

The Passion of Southern Christians-Margaret Renkl

This one is coming from Margaret Renkl of The New York Times. Now, this is an op-ed piece, so I won’t call it fake news, but I feel that an article like this does nothing to foster honest political debate in this country and reveals further ignorance from a member of the left.

Now I have to admit, Renkl drew me in to this article with her discussion of Judas and Peter’s actions in regards to the death of Jesus, but as soon as I hit the second paragraph, that’s when I really lost it and had an idea of the type of garbage that was I was about to digest. Once again, The New York Times and its writers can’t go one day without taking a shot at Trump voters. Referring to his supporters as “angry white voters in red hats,” Renkl does herself better and uses this description to bash any Christian person who voted for Trump. She makes sure to put quotes around the word Christian, just to hammer home her own condescending view of her fellow Christian brothers and sisters who have the audacity to disagree with her progressive ideals. What are those progressive ideals? According to Renkl, they are some of the values supported by the church: “…open immigration, welcoming refugees, opposing capital punishment, housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and the aged and the lonely…” Now, first off, I’m not sure where in the Bible it states that God and Jesus were in favor of open borders and letting in refugees with little to no vetting. If someone can find a passage that directly supports these policies, I am legitimately curious to read it. Renkl should not be twisting the word of the God to satisfy her own political philosophies. For me, capital punishment is a grey area that we may never really be able to outright justify or reject, so I won’t touch that teaching. For everything else, I fully agree with Renkl. Jesus did tell us to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and take care of the sick and the old and the lonely. And it is at this part of the article where I feel Renkl revealed her true ignorance.

A few paragraphs into her article, Renkl discusses southern hospitality. The southern¬† people welcome new neighbors with food and company and are the first to take care of their neighbors when disaster strikes. However, now that they voted for Trump, in Renkl’s mind, they are suddenly incapable of continuing this tradition. Because they chose to elect a man who promised to bring back jobs, enforce the nation’s laws, and bolster border security, they are now terrible people. Because they elected Trump, they will forego the sort of hospitable actions they once performed. Because they elected Trump, they will no longer help their neighbors. Hell, these people probably already stopped going to church and I’m sure they’re planning the next big bonfire where they can burn all of their bibles. Give me a break, Renkl. Putting your pencil mark next to the “R” rather than the “D” on the ballot doesn’t automatically get you a one-way ticket to damnation.

Renkl later states that her southern Christian Republicans placed Trump in the White House to turn America into a Christian nation. Now, I can’t really comment on whether this is an accurate statement because I’m a midwest Catholic. I really don’t know what kind of religious agenda southern Christians may hold, but I think Renkl is ignorant to the type of people who elected Trump. It wasn’t just the Christian base. In fact, in my mind, the Christian base was probably the hardest for Trump to attract because he never seemed to come out and say what kind of Christian he was. That was never a focus of his campaign. He won over the working class by promising to bring back jobs. He won over the jaded 20-30 somethings by promising to dismantle the establishment career politicians. He won over the swing states with his constant campaigning in those places. And as opposed to hanging with Jay-Z and Beyonce in the final days of the campaign, he did some cram campaigning. Maybe that’s why the people voted him into office. Crazy thought, but maybe the election of Donald Trump had nothing to do with how many times the guy has gone to church in his life.

Now I know that this is an opinion piece. Of course it’s meant to be controversial. It’s meant to get people talking. However, I don’t think a piece like this is beneficial to the conversation. As opposed to examining the true reasons why her fellow southern Christians helped to elect Donald Trump, Renkl instantly slams them as traitors to her view of Christianity and as traitors to the basic ideas of hospitality. She just ends up parroting the typical media view of Donald Trump and his supporters: they’re all terrible people and the nation will be ruined. Calling your neighbor a traitor and doubting his or her ability to do good in this world simply because he or she voted to Make America Great Again? Maybe it’s time for Renkl to reopen her own Bible.