Derek Gentile: In the US, facing our hate requires civil discourse


PITTSFIELD — We live in a great country. If you don't believe it, ask all the people who are trying to get here, or who have recently arrived.

But there is a lot of hate in the United States. I can't quantify whether there is more than there was say, 50, 60, 80, 100 years ago. Who knows? But hate is in the news a lot in 2016.

The events of the past week, including police shooting civilians and a civilian shooting five officers in Dallas, have clearly sparked some reflection. Reflection about hate and prejudice. That's good.

But to be honest, I don't think anything can change until we as a nation no longer believe we have the luxury to hate people.

Right now, many believe we do have the luxury. The luxury to hate and the luxury to ignore the points of view of people and groups who have a different perspectives than we do.

So we get vituperative posts online in places like Facebook and Twitter.

I rarely see any kind of civil discourse on the Internet. Person A posts a meme. Person B disparages it, usually in a rude manner. And we're off.

I've never seen someone post something like: "Hmmm. That's a reasonable point. I'd like to talk further on that." I'm sure it happens. But not often.

To a certain degree, that shows some level of, for lack of a better term, comfort. on the part of people. Comfort as in, I disagree with you, but rather than respectfully trying to talk our differences out, it's easier to just tell you you're an idiot. Because we really don't have to address the issue.

I don't believe there will ever be another Civil War, Texas or Arizona will not secede from the U.S. The United States is just too great a country for any kind of internal turmoil to overcome it, no matter what you read. So the hatred, alas, will continue and people will still be shot. I have some hope for the upcoming generation, who have grown up in a racially-mixed world. But the future is still uncertain. Short term? The good people will just have to work harder than the bad ones.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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