Think about words

Editor, Gettysburg Times,

I can remember when politics was like a competitive “sport.” The winners were gracious and losers shook winners’ hands, vowed to continue to support the common good and went back to their day jobs. Sure there were political “dirty tricks,” different points of view about policies and what was the best way forward but differences were debated and rules of order generally prevailed.

Fast forward (the years seem shorter as I grow older) to the present, when national election candidates declare that the very processes in which they participate are rigged. They cry fraud, racism, xenophobia, homophobia and prejudice. Winners are declared “illegitimate” and vilified. Losers launch efforts at home and abroad to undermine those tasked with running our government. The “loyal opposition” has turned our national politics into disruption, half-truths, deceit and outright hatred of their opponents and all of those associated with them. Thankfully most local politics has not been caught up in this spinning cesspool that, if left unchecked, will suck our country into decline and division.

I respect the opinions of folks, local and national, who invest themselves in support of our nation and who abide by the rules and laws that govern it. Those who have taken the oath to serve in defense of our constitution and to preserve the liberties we have been granted under it deserve nothing less, no matter their political bent, their religious belief, their race or their gender. Our republic, from its beginnings, has been a work-in-progress. As citizens, we are tasked with correcting the flaws and improving processes for the general good. Undermining our leaders with deceit, half-truth and hatred leads to anarchy and erodes the fabric of the country we pass on to future generations. Fortunately, for most citizens, respecting the flag, singing the “National Anthem”, saying the “Pledge” and investing time and resources in good causes is still considered emblematic of our culture.

Think about words and don’t write or speak in haste. The unattributed saying, often linked to Lincoln or Twain, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak (or write) and remove all doubt” is especially meaningful today. We are pummeled by words daily, written and spoken, true and false, across many forms of media. Educate yourself to validate your words before you speak or write what others will ultimately judge to be your “truth.”

Happy Independence Day!

Chuck Stump,

Gettysburg

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