Develop Your Conscience First

We learned some basic things as children:

--it's not okay to lie
--it's not okay to hurt people with insults and shame
--it's not okay to take or destroy what isn't yours
--if you can help someone who is hurting, do so
--share what you have with those who don't
--when you mess up, own it: apologize and make amends
--use your words
--don't yell or attack
--mind your own business; respect others' right to make their own personal choices
--be polite to strangers; you can never know what they've been dealing with

There is nothing in any of that that is a political agenda. Not a thing. It's just solid, proven guidelines for living a peaceful life and not spreading misery among the people who are forced by circumstance to share the world with you. You can pretty much assume whenever you break one of these, you're going to hurt someone, maybe several someones. Is that the legacy you want to leave for your presence in the world that day? Is that who you are?

I've seen firsthand the cruelty people are capable of when they believe they are "right." Being "right" is a poison to the mind and soul. It's the fool's prize, and the trophy is a golden ass on a pedestal. When we feel so "right" that we decide we can go outside the guidelines, we are that fool's golden ass on a pedestal. When I go online lately, I'm saddened by the things people will say to each other, complete strangers, just to be "right." Driving around town, I'm dodging people zipping past me in the right lane, running stop signs and red lights, riding on my bumper, and I'm sure they feel so "right" in their aggression and dangerous driving. People are letting fear make them feel "right" to arm themselves far beyond their training and competence, and to be irresponsible with lethal forces.

We who live in the US are fortunate enough to live in one of the oldest and most stable democracies. If we want to keep it that way, we have to follow those solid guidelines we learned as kids--whatever our political leanings. If we elect leaders who do not follow the guidelines, we are in big, big trouble. But more importantly, we rely on each other, our neighbors and fellow citizens, to form and reform the government and laws that we will live under from Congress to Congress, election to election, generation to generation. We must--must--be able to carry on conversations with one another without doing so in a way that burns bridges, that attacks, that seeks only to appear "right" and make the other look "wrong."

This is not a tall order. Kids in elementary school can do it. Grown-ups can do it too. Must do it. The future of our country depends on it.