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Can we at least be civil?

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Tue, Oct 12, 2010

We are in the middle of what seems to be shaping up one of the most divisive and nasty political campaign seasons ever.

The depths to which our politicians have sunk when attacking each other, citizens and local businesses, reveal the desperation of either side, to either seize power or maintain power in our blessed land.{{more}}

In past elections, politicians have signed codes of conduct, but it is debatable just how effective these have been.

But it seems as though it is not just politicians who need to be guided, if the behaviour of regular citizens, and persons hosting and calling in to radio programmes, is anything to go by.

We the people seem to be following the example of our politicians and conducting ourselves in a most unbecoming manner.

We seem to have lost all sense of what is, or is not, acceptable behaviour; especially callers to and hosts of radio programmes.

Persons have been described as various animals, others have been threatened with violence; boycotts have been called on businesses; people’s sexual orientations have been questioned; allegations of criminality have been made without names being called, with the accusers having no proof, but still being prepared to sow the seeds of doubt.

The persons guilty of this type of behaviour are playing to the gallery, entertaining their party bases, not realising that the persons they should be seeking to impress, are those among us who are still undecided, the swing vote. They are the ones who will decide the outcome of the next general elections.

The name calling, verbal abuse and threats will certainly not win over anyone to the side whose case you plead. Of course, the party stalwarts will be excited by, and encourage this type of behaviour, but it is divisive and destructive.

We as citizens should demonstrate to the politicians the manner in which we would like the political campaign to be conducted, not the other way around.

Of course, we are all entitled to our opinions and have the right to express them. And express them we should.

However, while seeking to break down the other person’s argument, we should not seek to threaten or destroy the person.

Perhaps some persons, out of frustration or because they have had an abbreviated education, may not have the tools at their disposal to formulate a solid counter-argument, and do not know of any other way to express themselves. We who know better should seek to guide them, not encourage them.

An e-mail was read on a radio call in programme last Friday, which expressed the writer’s displeasure with Searchlight’s editorial of October 8, 2010. The e-mail writer said that he or she wanted the opportunity to burst some of his or her worst expletives in the face of the Editor of this newspaper. That writer was threatening verbal abuse, but someone else hearing the contents of that e-mail, may want to take it a step further.

Let us stop, reflect on what we are doing to each other before it is too late. We are all Vincentians and have to share the 150 square miles which make up our nation with each other. Nation building requires cooperation, communication and working towards a common purpose.

During this election season, let us not create permanent divisions. Let us at least try to be civil with each other.

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