“A healthy community is a network of interdependent, nurturing relationships.”
I’ve been working really hard the last few years, learning how to build this kind of nurturing network on Facebook, as well as in the Real World (Facebook is easier).
Just now I was thinking what it means to encourage nurturing relationships in the context of disagreement.
Here’s something I’ve learned is not nurturing friendships:
- Calling your friends bigots.
- Or allowing some of your friends to call your other friends bigots.
- Or quoting people—or posting links to people—who call your friends bigots.
Even though we’ve continued, as a culture, to lower the bar on whom we call bigots, the word still stings. It still divides friends. It still causes people—often good people whose sense of moral order, often religiously based, simply differs from our own—it causes people to lose their jobs. Their place in our community. Even their opportunity to speak and be understood. And, yes, disagreed with.
It creates bitterness and anger.
When I was a young child, just as I was first becoming aware of politics and history, we had a name for that kind of thing.
It was called McCarthyism.
It was a toxic dynamic that inspired folks to trace and run down anyone with even a whiff of sympathy for the “communists in our midst.” They were interrogated. Investigated. Their friends pressured to testify against them.
Reputations were ruined, careers destroyed, families and friendships shattered.
Is that what we’re facing today?
A new kind of McCarthyism?