Swickard: For 2017 let us wag more and bark less

© 2009 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  The year 2016 will go down as being extra contentious. Every presidential election brings out the barbs by partisans but this one was worse. I hope 2017 features the mantra: wag more and bark less. I saw that on a bumper sticker and liked it.
            The problem is that many people continue spewing hate from the election which didn’t change things then nor now. There are many still trying to change the presidential election but that hay is in the barn. Others have gotten addicted to the ways of spewing poison and do so whenever possible.
            This is very apparent on our roadways where nice driving is an exception rather than the rule. The other day I was behind a woman who was waiting for someone to finish their turn. Neither the woman nor I could proceed but the person behind me was losing his mind. Yes, it was a young man. He was honking and waving at me but I couldn’t move.
            We were making this young man be several seconds late. Oh, my. He finally came by me waving and cursing and swerving at me and the lady in front. Oh, my. It appeared he intended to pull in front of me and come back and punch me which would not have ended well since I was armed.
            Instead he screeched off and ran a red light. Oh, my. In a matter of seconds his road rage almost caused several accidents. Why did this person feel entitled to act like an idiot? Perhaps it is because he does so online continually and his troll behavior has gone to his driving.
            There is an epidemic of rage driving and dare I say new rules might be needed. I’m not one to want more legislation since we have a million rules for every person. Still, this might need something like if you are caught driving aggressively the first time, you lose your driver’s license for five years. That will make you older and you will be so glad to get your license back.
            * Note, I have been told that if you take the driver’s license away they will just drive and threaten people anyway. I believe we can incarcerate them until they are too old to drive if they want to be mule-headed.
            Wait. I was wanting to talk about wagging more and barking less. Shuckins, it is so easy to bark. And there are things that should be barked at but I want this next year to be one of more wagging and less barking. So first, we must heal the partisan wounds and become one nation rather than two fighting camps.
            Again, that won’t be easy since many of Americans have gotten such a thrill out of being a jackass to the other people in our country. Mostly, this is online and in the media. When I lived in a small New Mexico town for many years this was rarely done.
            The reason was simple: if you said something rude about one of the people you would see that person at coffee break and at lunch and at the town meeting. That person would play pitty-pat with your head for being such a wise guy. So, we were a bit more genteel because any slight was dealt with right away.
            To their credit there are some media editors that attempt to take the slights out of discussion but it is like trying to wipe the stripes off a tiger. We Americans are getting wrapped around the political axle about Russia or China or countries in the Middle East.
            The truth is contained in a statement made in 1848 by Henry John Temple Palmerston, “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”
            The same is true for both of our political parties where it doesn’t matter which party, it matters which interest. My interest is that Americans get along better and not be so belligerent to those around them. For the year 2017 and beyond let us Americans wag more and bark less. A very Happy New Year my friends.