Civil Discourse Now

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Irony is to hit the "like" on FaceBook, to show support for a friend when the friend suffers.

   Ruth Patchett Collins and I were in grade school together, maybe as far back as first grade. (I would say what elementary school that was, but since "first elementary school" is a clearance question for credit cards, I'll pass.) She was one of those kids with whom we migrated up the chain and closer to the door and graduation. I had not heard from her, nor she from me, since we left school way back when. The wonders of Face Book as they are, we friended (a noun converted to a verb) each other.

   Ruth is very devout in her religion, obviously an aspect of life we do not share. However, her grandson Chase recently broke his back and matters were pretty touch-and-go. I know medical staff still are very much involved with his care. I hope the best for all concerned.

 ,  Ruth posted a request for everyone to have her grandson in their prayers. I hit "like," as a lot of others did, but I felt somewhat hypocritical. I am an atheist. That FB post was not the place, however, or posted at a time that would have made a comment qualified by belief appropriate. I could have posted: "I would have him in my prayers, but all I can do is give you my best thoughts and wishes because I don't share your religious beliefs. For that matter, I do not believe in a deity. Still, I wish you all the best." One aspect is that I do not what my expression of support mistaken for a shared belief in a particular, or any religion, while I still want to express my support.

   We have freedom of expression, at this time and to some extent, in the United States. That does not mean a specific expression of opinion is appropriate at any given time. A statement as I just described would have sounded self-serving, when my goal, if it was a "goal," was to express support. I hit "like." I have hit "like" other times when people I knew years ago, or people who are close now, have experienced some tragedy. The "like" is not to give a "thumbs up" to tragedy, but to give support to the person in the challenges that lay ahead. I wanted to write what I write today in this blog months ago, when I hit "like" for the first time in such circumstances.

   So if I hit "like" on an FB post in which someone expresses something akin to what I have described, please do not misread what I mean. You might not be in my prayers, but I will send out good thoughts or vibes or whatever the term would be. And to Ruth I send exactly those sentiments.


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