Health Care and Civility: What’s Missing Here?

Well, I managed to spend most mornings this week chasing the belt on the treadmill. And that has given me plenty of opportunity — probably way more than any sensible person needs — to watch and listen to the TV Talking Heads and others opine on the changes involving health care. Gee, maybe we need the government to mandate civility.

Just kiddin’.

But we sure could use some civility these days — and that applies equally to our leaders in Congress and to anyone inclined to hurl a digital missive or a brick.  We’re not going to reach a consensus on health care — or on most other national issues. Maybe agreement — or at least acceptance — comes over time. Maybe not. We’ll see. But the reality right now is that the country is split — with what I believe are some legitimate philosophical differences about the role of government, taxes, immigration and on and on.

I guess that’s why we have elections.

So while we as a nation don’t agree on important issues, could we at least agree on this: Violence isn’t the answer.

I heard someone — the owner of a small business — say that on CNN this morning while I was going nowhere slowly on the treadmill. And during a time of overblown rhetoric and contentious partisan debate, that struck me as a pretty common sense answer to a potentially very dangerous situation. (See “House of Anger,” NYT blog post by Timothy Egan.”)

It was part of a story about the threats that members of Congress have been receiving — and in some cases instances the acts of vandalism that have taken place.  That’s wrong — and it needs to stop now to make sure that it doesn’t escalate.

Like most in this country, I’m a defender of free speech — and one of our great traditions is the willingness and ability to criticize our government and those who serve at the will of the people as elected officials.

But there is a line — maybe defined by civility — that can’t be crossed.

Violence isn’t the answer.


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