In Elizabethan theatre, there were two many parts of the audience seating areas. One was for the genteel nobles and noblewomen. There people dressed in fine clothes, would sit and watch the play with a spirit of respect attempted to appreciate the play for its artistic merits. Whether they understood it or not, they would show good manners . The other section of the theatre was called the bear pit. There people would be loud and rowdy throughout the play. They would heckle the actors. If they did not enjoy the play, they would boo. No civility existed in the bear pit. Those who were the most boorish in the bearpit were often cheered.
I hoped that such brutish behaviour was long gone. But unfortunately in the 80's and 90's, ill mannered behaviour once more gained a platform. The 80's and 90's saw so many talk shows come on television. In order to separate themselves from other talk shows, the Morton Downey Show and the Jerry Springer show encouraged people to yell, cat call, fist fight, dehumanize, and degrade others. The public ate it up. Bad behaviour was once in vogue.
I wathced the last two US federal elections with some disdain. It seemed that all civility had disappeared. I saw people expressing great anger, yelling things like lock her up, insulting others, encouraging violence and destruction and avoiding the issues. I thought to myself well at least that does not happen in Canada. That was until this federal election. Protestors have been showing up at rallies for candidates of all parties trying to drown out the message of the candidates. These protestors are expressing violence. These protestors are the angers of uncivil behaviour.
I understand that people have the right to express their disagreement with the policies of a government or a political party. That is the wonderful thing about democracy. We have a right to express ourselves. But when the expression of such disagreement becomes violent, we have gone too far. We have a right to express our opinion, but that does not give us the right to shout down the other. Shouting each other down just leaves us deafened. Shouting each other down does nothing to build bridges between people. Shouting each other down hardens our hearts against the other.
I used to think that one of the great things about being Canadian is that, more often than not, we were civil to one another. After the events of the past weekend though, I am not so sure. We live in a democracy. Politicians should be able to express their opinions and layout their platforms without fear of death threats and violence. If you disagree with their policies, go and support one of their opponents. Vote for someone else. Don't act like a boor and threaten violence to those who disagree with you. I grieve for civility. I pray we don't follow the US lead in elections where we dehumanize those who disagree with us. Let us pray for a country where we can agree to disagree without venom or hostility. Blessings.