Apparently I Have A Dream

Last night I logged in to Facebook for a quick check in. Typically I'm met with something that makes me smile and have generally warm feelings for humanity. This time, though, I saw two posts in my stream about a hate-filled act of violence based in political difference and then another friend's post that had turned ugly with comments. I literally cried. Just a little. But I cried. My first instinct was to turn it off, but something inside me said I owed it to myself and the other people who might be feeling the same way to speak up. I posted on my wall:
I would like to once again rally for people not being hateful to one another based on political beliefs (or religion or race or sexual preference or...). Be civil. Please. Love people, love. I've seen enough in one quick check in on Facebook tonight to just want to check out of Facebook all together. I think I need to go read Richard Brendan's* page.
I received some very supportive comments and "likes" to my post.

Later a dear friend of mine, a friend in real life (IRL, as the kids say) who lives entirely too far away now, reposted what I said which sparked a civil conversation where some people apologized for disagreeing with him, some agreed with what he said and some supported the cause of debate on Facebook. Actually, it was the right kind of discussion. Not sheep. Not mean. So I posted on that thread of conversation:
For me, it's not the posting of "hot" topics or even the debate, it's when people just get ugly and mean, when they name call, when they attack the person, not just the ideas. While I'm a classic conflict avoider, I understand the necessity of disagreement and the progress it *can* produce. I just don't understand why people can't be civil. I'd like to say it's only on Facebook or the Internet, but I see it now in day to day discourse, in how quickly someone dismisses another as evil or stupid simply because they don't have the same viewpoint. I even see stories of violence that are the result of lathered up hate over difference. I want to see people stand up for what they believe in without tearing down their human brothers and sisters. A simple "I disagree" when one has nothing else constructive to add or even "I'll have to consider that more" might go a long way to making peace in this world. Apparently I have a dream.
I want to say more here and I feel like I need to do more research on civility in general and civil discourse in particular. I have a few books cued up and there are plenty of articles to read. I also know that in my need to know enough to have a right to write on a topic I may never post this entry. And so I'll simply close with a plea to humanity: Please treat all living things with respect. Please be kind. Disagree and express yourself? Yes! Just do it with love and compassion in your heart.

*Richard Brendan, by the way, is a great guy, a guy who is a lot of things, among them a host of a radio show where he talks to people who are visionaries and social change artists™. When I think of someone who is all about love, Richard quickly comes to mind.

Note: Is avoider a real word? I'm debating that in my own mind.