I don’t know why politicians make personal attacks. They must think it wins votes. Not mine. If my children had blamed bad grades on their teacher’s character flaws, I’d have sent them to their rooms. We should do the same to mud slinging politicos.
We all know a different opinion doesn’t make a person evil. An attack-ad vilifying someone for an offhanded remark, usually taken out of context, is wrong. Worse, it misrepresents to the world what’s right with our country.
Most Americans are fair. We are resolute in our beliefs, but don’t hit below the belt. No cheap shots. The people I have admired most in my life have exemplified these values.
My father had a sign over his dresser that said, “If you can’t say something good about a person, don’t say anything at all.” No shrinking violet, he gave his opinion freely. But, he followed that rule. I don’t recall that his views were discounted because of it. Probably the opposite.
My father’s rule surfaced again years later when, as a young lawyer, I attended a conference on minority lending practices. It was held in a posh auditorium at a downtown bank. I was one of the only whites. The program was to advise African Americans how to get business loans. The instructor, an aging black banker, told us about government programs requiring banks to make loans in low income areas.
At the end of the presentation he closed his notes, took off his glasses, and looked out over the audience. One day, he said in a measured tone, these mandatory programs won’t be necessary. But, not unless we all learn one rule: Be aggressive to the issue, sympathetic to the person.
He waited for the statement to resonate, then said in conclusion: When either side blames failure on the other’s personal bias, we are all the poorer for it. So, don’t.
I hope I see him again someday so I can thank him, personally.
Malcolm D. Gibson
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