For so long, I tried to avoid the news. I was tired of worrying about things I couldn’t control. Lately, it has become pretty much impossible. Unless I turn off the computer and the TV for good, I’m doomed to find out things I just don’t want to know. I find out things I don’t want to know about people too.

Facebook has become more torment than pleasure. Pictures are pretty much what keeps me from just deleting the whole thing. I want to know about people’s lives, I want to celebrate their joy, empathize with their pain and comfort them when I can. What I don’t want to do is be bombarded with hate filled rants, pounded with agendas and swamped with misinformation.

In between pictures of grandchildren, food and cat videos, lies venom.

Very few things inspire our collective ire or pride anymore. We can’t agree to respect our country’s flag, or its leader, or even what patriotism is. We can’t agree on what a terrorist is, what crime is, what a hero is. We can’t even agree on the evil of child molesters.

We can’t agree on anything, and we certainly can’t discuss it civilly. We believe proclamations without facts, as long as they fit our idea of the truth. We only know how to shame, label and bully.

If I choose not to vaccinate my child, I am a menace to society, I am uneducated and stupid.

If I choose to vaccinate my child, I am pumping them full of poison, sentencing them to a life of pain or death, I am uneducated and stupid.

If I am a Christian, I must abhor atheists, transgender people, gays and anyone who would even consider an abortion. I am required to hate anything and everything, unless, of course, it’s done by a Christian who claims to have been forgiven by God.

If I am on the other side, I must abhor Christians. I must completely understand and embrace anything and everything, except, of course, Christians.

If I am a liberal, I know that all conservatives are hypocrites, worship at the feet of FOX news and would just as soon shoot me as look at me.

If I am a conservative, I know that all liberals are on welfare, moral deviants, and they are all against God and country.

Bullying is repugnant, unless, you are making fun of someone who doesn’t think, look, or talk just like you.

Inclusion is a necessity, unless, that person doesn’t fit your image of normal.

Policemen and soldiers are racists and murderers, that is, until someone is shooting at you, or stealing your things.

Social programs are for the poor and lazy, that is, until you lose your job and need help feeding your family.

It is exhausting to try and keep up.

Respect for any ideas, other than our own, has vanished.

When did it become mandatory for everyone to think exactly like everyone else? When did it become okay to viciously attack, or write people off who don’t think and feel the same as you on every subject?

Until we relearn the art of compromise, we will stay stagnant. I assure you, your over the top personal attacks will not win you one convert. They will not convince one other opposite-thinking, human being of your brilliance or sway them, miraculously, to your side.

I used to consider myself a conservative, but in today’s climate, I can only hope to classify myself as simply being a decent human being, and it is a dwindling party.

So, please, keep posting your cat videos, baby pictures, joys and woes. But in between, maybe we could all try an experiment. When something happens that touches our hearts and demands our opinion, let’s try expressing it with kindness and respect. We might just be surprised at the results.