Thoughts to Ponder – January 23, 2016

“Hate is like acid. It can damage the vessel in which it is stored as well

as destroy the object on which it is poured.”*

Ann Landers

Once again our presidential election season is upon us. Is it just me, or does this campaign seem more vitriolic than usual? Every four years we, as a nation, go through this process and each time accusations and insults fly like feathers at a chicken fight.

During the years when news traveled by weekly newspapers and letters that could take months to arrive, the writer usually took time to evaluate the consequences of his or her words before putting pen to precious, expensive paper. Some of their letters were quite pointed. Volatile arguments have continued through our history.

Perhaps one difference is that now we have instant media and many more media outlets, so we are more aware of what the candidates and their supporters are saying. This allows those running for office, and the rest of us, to spout opinions without thinking about the potential effects of their/our communication.

We may want to take a few minutes to examine our thoughts before sending them out to the world. Have we studied what we heard or thought we heard? Have we considered if there might be another aspect to that story? Have we considered how the words we send into the ether may affect the candidates or other voters?

Is this good for our individual well-being?

We are destroying the best part of ourselves and our nation by pouring the acid of hate upon those with whom we disagree. I must admit that I also participate in this destruction. I classify candidates by how I think they should act and occasionally make a statement to that effect. I can feel what these thoughts are doing to my internal self and know that others must be feeling the same. I’m concerned that many people are placing the blame for their irritation on the various candidates rather than the acid they are pouring on themselves.


We ask that you guide us to evaluate our thoughts and words so we might not pour hate on anyone or anything, including ourselves. We know that guilt adds to the acid bath, so we ask you to show us how to be kind to ourselves as we become aware of our thoughts and actions as we debate the issues.

And, so it is.

* Warner, Carolyn, Treasury of Women’s Quotations, Prentice Hall, 1992, page 40

© by Sharon D. Dillon, January 23, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon,, “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by Available in print and e-format at


14 thoughts on “Thoughts to Ponder – January 23, 2016

  1. This is a powerful and accurate piece. It’s really hard to avoid being affected by the culture of hate and meanness that is so boldly displayed in our political campaigns this time. Deep breaths.

  2. Almost a decade ago, The leaders of the Republican party decided to switch almost 100% to negative campaigning where you focus on the deficiencies of your opponent rather than what you will do. That is partially due to the Republican’s wanting smaller and less government—thus they really didn’t have an agenda of doing things. Soon, the democrats followed suit. Thus you have what we have today. For others, I have written about this and explained how this works and has become a cultural norm. Negative thinking or score-keeping is in our sports and everywhere; not just politics. I share that with you now. Then I will share how having a view of what is wrong is only having that view, nothing more. In order to produce change, one has to focus on a “positive” that you want. In all aspects of life. The Republicans are very much for preserving what is, thus they do not want any change.

    Here is what I have shared with many:

    Feelings are normal and natural. They have as their goal to seek discharge. When we humans do that, we can get back to our cognitive thinking.

    However, often instead of sharing or expressing a feeling and thus discharging it, human’s store them. They then are re-experienced, sometimes at the most unusual times, over and over again for years, until they finally are released. Bad feelings never really disappear but they can get replaced by good feelings and moved so far back in our memory, they no longer influence our lives.

    Another unhealthy approach is to deflect from a feeling process to a related one that involves their values. Here, the individual seeks to justify having bad feelings by placing blame on someone else. This has become so prevalent in this country that it is a national norm. Collectively we seek to blame someone. e.g. in the world of sports, it is always someone’s fault that a team loses. Fans blame the quarter-back or the owner or someone else for losing. They forget that there is always another team, often equally talented, motivated and prepared. There is also luck. There are many factors that influence winning or losing a sporting event but ‘we seek to blame’. It is a part of our culture that when something goes wrong, we seek to blame someone.

    Correspondingly, many people are ‘negative score keepers’ Negative score keeping is set in motion when someone begins to evaluate or judge something in relations to its drawbacks without sharing any positives. The best way is to take the criteria for goodness or success that may be spoken or unspoken, and offer some positives about what you are viewing. Then you go on and critique the weaknesses or bad points. Here is my example of classic Negative Scorekeeping:

    Ain’t My Golf Playing Awful

    There are a foursome of long-time friends, all very good golfers, who meet every Tuesday morning on a local course to play eighteen holes and have lunch together. The main purpose of this time is socialization, not the perfection of their golf games.

    Player # One tees off and hits the ball 220 yards straight down the wide-open fairway towards the green but somewhat to the left fairway edge. His reaction to the other three: “Well, I screwed that one up. I can do better.”
    Player # Two then tees off. He hits his ball only 180 yards, on the par four 320 yard hole and says: “Me too. I didn’t get the meat of the ball. I left a lot of distance here on the tee.”

    Player # Three tees off and hits the ball a long ways, way beyond his two friends shots, but into the short rough, about 80 yards from the green. “Boy did I pull my head on that one. Look at the trouble I am in!”

    Player Number Four hits a perfect shot down the middle, about 100 yards from the green. “I had a good shot here but I know I will screw up the next one.”

    All four golfers play on, with each getting a par!

    They have played ‘Golf Ain’t It Awful’ or used the Negative Score-keeping process to relate to each other. Neither has to do with reality but it all has to do with feelings and one’s Affective domain.

    In order to change something, one has to go from a statement of what is missing, lacking or wrong, to what one wants. If a group of people really don’t want anything, they aren’t going to suggest positives.

    Remember, in the political system that we have, most elected officials immediately switch to getting re-elected, not to serving others or making this a better country.

    Dennis Cogswell

    1. All you say is true, Dennis. I just didn’t want to get into all that in a short piece. I also avoided historic animosity. I felt those side tracks would get me off topic.

      1. Sharon,

        It is your call as it is your blog. It seems to me that I am being censored.

        Everything I wrote is descriptive. Find me a Republican that doesn’t want smaller government or less government. Find me a Democrat that doesn’t believe in lots of government intervention. And there is something bad about a story about a golf foursome????

        Where are their statements of animosity in my posting? Then again, what is written may not be read that way by a reader. Isn’t that a classic writing dilemma.

        Historically, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson publicly argued very actively in opposition to each others position. They were not kind publicly but kept within the limits of good discourse. However, each respected the others abilities. They also once a week sat down in the Raleigh Tavern over a pint to find out what they could agree on and together move this country forward. President Regan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’ Neill did the same thing. Never in the history of our country and our presidency has one party publicaly stated, before he took office, that their main goal was to undermine the President’s total being. That results in great hate. Hate and violence build more hate and violence.

        Do all know about the group of congress men and women who meet regularly regardless of party affiliation (Google “No Votes”) and come to consensus. That is what is needed in our Congress today and in the future.

        You started the theme about negativity. I just wrote about it as Negative a way that explains what is going on. Negative score-keeping is done by all politicians today—it sadly is their culture.

      2. Dennis, I agreed with your assessment and know the history that you mentioned, negative score keeping and the rest. I just wanted to keep the piece short and not get off track which was “let’s be a little more polite in our discourse.”

  3. Great article, Sharon! Discernment is a constant prayer of mine. I think writers often fail to grasp the right to freedom of speech does not mean one won’t end up with a foot in the mouth. In fact, I know some writers who have already destroyed their careers making false accusations.

  4. Powerful essay on politics and hate, Sharon. As you say, things do seem more vitriolic during the current campaign, but, as you also say, social media quickly amplifies that vitriol. There unfortunately has been plenty of nastiness in presidential campaigns going all the way back to the late 18th century.

    1. Thank you, Dave for your comments. You are correct and I tried to allude to the history of political nastiness without going into detail, too much information that would get me off topic. Jefferson and Madison were, shall we say, not friends, and on and on through the years.

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