From the Editor: Outrage is not dead, it’s alive and kickin’

   Mercifully, blissfully, the campaigning will be over in just three days. No more hate. No more name calling. No more charges of racism. No more images of Rush Limbaugh mocking Michael J. Fox. No more John Kerry “botching a joke” and all of America descending on him like vultures on a decaying carcass. No more gay prostitutes and denying evangelists. No more, no more, no more.
   Well, at least for another year and a half when it’s time to search for the next president.
   What a shame that we have come to this.
   William Bennett wrote a book a few years ago called “The Death of Outrage.” But outrage is not dead. Outrage is all the rage. Just look at our politicians in campaign mode.
   And what are we teaching our children through all of this? That we can bad mouth whomever opposes us, make them look foolish, tawdry and despicable, all for personal gain in the name of bettering our country? And when we are done campaigning everything’s nice nice again.
   Outrage is at an alltime high and it doesn’t matter the party affiliation.
   Illinois Senator Barack Obama, who many say will run for President in 2008, has nailed it. He has identified our problem and offered a solution in the same sentence — something we don’t get much of today.
   In his just-released book, “The Audacity of Hope,” the aspiring young politician says we are where we are because of our lack of empathy. We are no longer able to identify with others.
    Obama asserts that until we are able to simply step in another’s shoes, just for a couple of minutes, and see how the poor, the undereducated, the people living in drug infested neighborhoods feel, we will never be able to govern equally for all.
   And he makes other meaningful points that don’t reflect political views, but matters of simple common decency, something we are now largely void of:
   “What’s troubling is the gap between the magnitude of our challenges and the smallness of our politics,” Barack writes. “The ease with which we are distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our seeming inability to build a working consensus to tackle any big problem.”
   And …
   “We think of faith as a source of comfort and understanding but find our expressions of faith sowing division; we believe ourselves to be a tolerant people even as racial, religious and cultural tensions roil the landscape. And instead of resolving these tensions or mediating these conflicts, our politics fans them, exploits them, and drives us further apart.
   Regardless Obama’s politics, he makes vital points that cannot be denied: we are a country at war with one another. Summing us up, Obama seems to be saying: If you don’t agree with me, then you and your opinion are really not worth my time or trouble.
   Don’t look for it to go away in our lifetimes. The Rush Limbaughs, the Sean Hannitys, the Bill O’Reillys, the Air Americas, Al Frankens, network newscasts, 24-hour news cycles, the Jon Stewarts and Stephen Colberts have together become a billion-dollar cottage industry.
   There is far too much money being made in divisiveness to turn back now. Outrage is not dead. Outrage is alive. Instead, what’s dead is the respect we once had for one another and our ability to respect one another even if we have a different point of view.
  I wonder, how do we teach our children about respect when it simply ceases to exist entirely?

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