Monday Mom challenge: Consider your political tone

Apr 6, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. ET

Politics is a funny thing. Many will say they don't like it, "hate" it even - but those same people can be the most passionate about political issues. In this time of intense and often contentious political discourse it's up to all of us to consider how and what we talk about when we talk politics - if nothing else as an example for the next generations.

Mom reading newspaper

Right or left or center - or any combination thereof - politics is all around us. It's a shifting landscape of issues and elected officials and decisions that do affect us all. Whether politicians with your particular views are in office at any particular time is good and well - they may not always be there, though, to speak for you. As a citizen you need to be aware of topics and become well-informed not just for the voting booth on election day, but for the whole of the political climate.

Civic duty

Voting governmental representatives into office is a citizen's responsibility and civic priviledge. Becoming informed about issues is a part of that - and the efforts of politicians to sway you to their side is a part of that as well. Theoretically, political debate and campaigning and governing is about navigating toward a common good, but it sure doesn't seem like it at times. It can be too easy to check out of the process, not do the bit of work it takes to hear and understand the base issues, but that's abdicating your responsibility.

It's how you say it

Much has been made of late about the tone of political discourse in our country. Many believe that it has deteriorated into nasty bickering and unethical tactics that has little to do with the issues, and It's easy to repeat the arguments you hear on the Internet or on television. Certain words, phrases, and ideas incite passion among the populace - but aren't necessarily contributing to moving the debates forward into understanding of any kind.

Whatever you believe from a political point of view, how you say it makes a difference. The tone, the words, even the passion, can be expressed in ways that show respect for the world around us and political process. You don't have to like politicians on any side of an issue, but how you express that dislike (or like) makes a difference for the political process as a whole - and as an example for your children.

The political golden rule

Just as with the rest of our lives, it's a good idea to treat others as you want to be treated. This goes for political issues as well. If you want the other side of any political debate to talk only issues, then start by doing this yourself. Use only the kind of words you would like to hear in return. Just as you try to teach your children the Golden Rule for use on the playground and in friendships, demonstrate it's use in every part of your life - especially politics.

Changing the tone of political discourse on a state and national level starts on the local level. It's starts with everyday people deciding that they will talk respectfully - though still passionately - as a way to get back to respectful interactions...and as an example for our kids and their futures.

More of our Monday Mom Challenge series: