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EDITORIAL: Be kind … even on social media

A stack of newspapers
A stack of newspapers - 123RF Stock Photo

Leave the partisan politics in the closet for a minute and focus on Michael Wernick's words. It's there you will find a cause of concern, for we all need to pay attention and stop this flow of hate.

Wernick, Canada’s top bureaucrat, helped open the first round of hearings into the SNC-Lavalin affair by steering away from the issue for a minute, and it's that speech that has the entire country talking — or at least it should.

Yes, Wernick is appointed by the prime minister and it's fair to surmise he has allegiances to Justin Trudeau. But here's an excerpt from his speech that should transcend all lines of ugly political stripe.

"I worry about the rising tide of incitements to violence, when people use terms like 'treason' and 'traitor' in open discourse. Those are the words that lead to assassination. I’m worried that someone is going to be shot in this country this year during the political campaign.

"I worry about the reputations of honourable people who have served their country being besmirched and dragged through the market square. I worry about the trolling from the vomitorium of social media entering the open media arena.

"Most of all, I worry about people losing faith in the institutions of governance in this country, and that’s why these proceedings are so important."

His worries, as we know, are seen in every locale of this country, including every corner of western Newfoundland.

Politics used to be a blood sport. Those were the good old days. Now, in the age of Trumponians, it's become an arena riddled by poor ethics, oppression, lies, selfishness and vile abuse of power.

Yes, we see that on the national stage, but you don't need to look any further than our own House of Assembly for a lesson in how we expect our leaders not to act.

When populism appears as a plea of the lowest common denominator of our communities, we should be scared.

When free thought is mistaken for the right to hate speech, we need to act.

When every opposing viewpoint is met with condescension, gaslighting and bullying, we need to come down off that horse and realize we're dealing with people. And slaying those individuals with words so you can step on the wounded in climbing that sad hill of pomposity does not make you the victor; it only means you've succumbed to tactics that hollow your own existence and will never fill that gaping hole of self-worth.

Social media, despite the wonders of education and perspective it has provided over the years, has indeed become a "vomitorium." It's a place where people cannot disagree without being accused of being a Nazi. It's a place where the offended rally the like-minded and swarm their opposers with vitriolic hurt. No one wins.

We live in a time where a question of motivation is taken as an assault and a firestorm of vengeance ensues.

Yes, social media has given us equal voices, but among those being heard the most are people whose self-interests are steeped in intent to harm and destroy people in their community.

If you're on the extreme of the left- or right-wing, please come a little closer to the middle. Please be kind to your fellow human beings. Please respect people with different ideas and please stop dragging others through the market square.

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