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Stop trying to win, just listen

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Good morning. Normally in this space you and I consider local people and issues. Today is going to be different, both in tone and in topic.

I am alarmed. We are all incredibly fortunate to live in this nation, and yet too many of us are tearing down the ideals to which we allegedly aspire. I have watched and listened for some time to the speech that passes for discourse in recent years and am, for the first time, very worried about what is to come in my beloved country.

The hallmark of this destructive speech manifests in political discourse, apolitical discourse and social media posts about the news of the day — or even a meme about a cat and a dog. At the risk of inspiring more trolling, I say this: I’m tired of everyone trying to beat everyone else.

The most pervasive, corrosive element in our freedom of expression right now is the attitude that you have to “win.” Far too many people are far too violently opposed to reading or hearing an opinion that is even slightly different than their own.

People use “hate” and “kill” to talk about their fellow countrymen with far too much ease and regularity. What?! And they use these words over political party identification, or even how they voted on Corral Hollow Road upgrades.

Moreover, a person’s stance on one thing can inspire condemnation and a refusal to even consider anything else they have to say or do in the community. We just went through a story where a man who had supported an unpopular housing measure was ridiculed for doing something totally unrelated — offering money to federal workers in need.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with standing firm on one’s principles, but to view those who have a different principle as enemies is straight crazy. And I use that word deliberately because I fear that this propensity to tear one another down is a pervasive social mental illness that is spreading.

Why would you hate your fellow countrymen and -women because they believe something different than you? There seems to be no assumption that everyone wants the best for America. There is only the desire to conquer, “win” and leave only your view dominant.

Even zero-sum results have become acceptable to far too many people: “I don’t care if I lose so long as you don’t win.” It’s crazy.

And instead of acting as a check to our worse instincts, our local, state, federal and even religious leaders have elevated “win by any means” to a predominant manner of discourse.

I don’t get it. What is to be gained? And before you nod in agreement, I am speaking to everyone who has ever said they hated anyone — not because they were evil, but because they were different.

The very nature of the First Amendment, and indeed this whole glorious nation, is to support as many differences as we can conceive — not to rebuke and defeat them. In fact, trying to “win” will eventually eat away at the freedom you are exercising because of your refusal to allow for any other speech.

Please wake up. Please stop believing that your countrymen and -women must be stopped because they do not think or act as you do. Stop trying to win. Be a patriot and let tolerance be our strength once again.

Executive Editor Michael Ellis Langley can be reached by email at or by phone at 830-4231.

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