The house next door is being renovated by people who live a few streets away. Our dogs always bark at them. (They’re not happy or nice people. Dogs know.) Anyway, more than once I’ve caught them yelling “Shut up!” at the dogs.

Yeah, that never works.

But you know what would work? If they took the time to get to know the dogs. To speak to them in a kind voice. Maybe got down on their level to appear less intimidating. It might take weeks or even months, but eventually they dogs would bark less.

The dogs aren’t going anywhere. Even if our entire pack ran away tomorrow, we’d have more dogs soon enough. And then the renovators next door would have to get used to those dogs. Or perhaps they’d just keep yelling.

I live in a liberal city in a conservative state. Most of my friends are liberals. I’m married to a liberal. As a result, I definitely lean liberal. But I was raised conservative republican, and this perspective provides unique insight into our nation’s two warring factions.

Here’s what I see:

  • Liberals are pissed. About everything.
  • Conservatives are giddy that liberals are pissed, and tell them to get over it. They “suffered” for 8 years under logic and reason, now it’s the liberal’s turn to do some suffering.
  • Liberals take the bait, dig deep into their arsenal of academia … and start lobbing insults–which are usually aimed at the conservative’s inferior intellect.

For the life of me I do not understand the tactic of engaging in insults. It’s not unlike the people next door yelling at my dogs.

Hey liberals, aren’t you the educated ones? Aren’t you supposed to be smarter than the other guys? Then why the hell are you engaging in tactics that have zero prospect for a positive outcome?

Maybe it’s time to climb down from your high horse and engage the other side in sincere dialogue that could one day yield positive results. Because the insults, despite your intent, make you look stupid. And insecure.

Or, just keep yelling.

Because that always works.




Tom Petty
The Raping of Values

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.

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