Tom Purcell, 4/8/2019 [Archive]

Hope 'Springs' Eternal for Civil Discourse

Hope 'Springs' Eternal for Civil Discourse

By Tom Purcell


Spring has finally arrived in all its glory.

In Pittsburgh, the weather has warmed, the trees are blossoming and the birds are singing cheerfully.

Sure, we Pittsburghers get plenty of rain this time of year, but as English poet Thomas Tusser reminds us, "Sweet April showers do spring May flowers." (The Pittsburgh version of Tusser's memorable line is just as uplifting: "April showers bring May showers.")

With winter behind us, new life erupting daily outdoors fills us with wonder, hope and ambition. What great, positive things for our lives and communities might we accomplish?

As a proud resident of "flyover country" - what some in larger cities, such as Washington, D.C., mockingly call heartland America - I hope and pray that spring's power and beauty brings much-needed humility to our political leaders and media celebrities.

Because our political discourse must take a new course.

Our political discourse is a mess, in part because too many leaders are more interested in lathering up their bases than in addressing the many challenges we all face.

It's a mess because too many cable-news talking heads gin up dubious narratives to swell viewership and line their pockets - a problem getting worse as traditional newspapers lose readership and revenue, prompting layoffs of hard-nosed, objective reporters who keep political leaders, and political narratives, in check.

That's the fault of increasing social-media polarization. Too many in our representative republic surround themselves only with like-minded "friends" and demonize any ideas that conflict with their own.

Across the country, emotional thinking is overcoming critical thinking - a feelings-based approach that's being institutionalized on college campuses, according to a fascinating article in The Atlantic by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.

"In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don't like," write the authors.

This is a worrisome turn of events. As the authors point out, universities are supposed to teach students how to think, not what to think.

"The idea goes back at least as far as Socrates," they write. "Today, what we call the Socratic method is a way of teaching that fosters critical thinking, in part by encouraging students to question their own unexamined beliefs, as well as the received wisdom of those around them."

In any event, too many of us are lost in the narrowness of our own limited points of view. That's not good for political discourse, or for solving problems. And, therefore, that's not good for our country's future.

I can't think of a better time than right now to regain our senses.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is under way in D.C. Cherry trees given to America by the Japanese in 1912 are in full bloom. They bring an infectious calm to an otherwise raucous town.

I hope and pray that our politicians and media celebs in D.C. talk long walks along the Tidal Basin to draw inspiration from those cherry trees in magnificent bloom.

I hope and pray that we all shut off our social media and cable news and take a mind-clearing walk in a park.

Then, renewed by spring's beauty and power, we'll be able to resume much calmer, more civil discourse - which is essential to accomplishing great, positive things for our lives and communities!

-

Copyright 2019 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, author of "Misadventures of a 1970's Childhood," a humorous memoir available at amazon.com, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. For info on using this column in your publication or website, contact Sales@cagle.com or call (805) 969-2829. Send comments to Tom at Tom@TomPurcell.com.



Download Tom Purcell's color photo - Download Tom Purcell's black and white mug shot photo
Why not run a cartoon with the column? We recommend the cartoons below as a good compliment to Tom Purcell's topic.
Click on the thumbnail images to preview and download the cartoons.

Related Cartoons

No Room For Civil Discourse
By: Jeff Koterba

September 29, 2018

Uncivil Discourse Ears Bleeding
By: Jeff Koterba

November 3, 2018

civility war
By: David Fitzsimmons

November 6, 2012

civility war COLOR
By: David Fitzsimmons

November 6, 2012

I'M OKYOU'RE…
By: Bruce Plante

June 22, 2018

I'M OKYOU'RE…
By: Bruce Plante

June 22, 2018

Death of Common Ground
By: Monte Wolverton
Cagle Cartoons
May 24, 2017

Death of Common Ground
By: Monte Wolverton
Cagle Cartoons
May 24, 2017
  

We do not accept and will not review unsolicited submissions from cartoonists.
Sales & Information: (805) 969-2829 sales@cagle.com
Billing Information: (805) 969-2829billing@cagle.com
Technical Support: support@cagle.com

FREE cartoons for your website if you're already a paying print subscriber!
Artwork and columns are copyrighted by each creator. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service