Lopping And Cropping

Sometimes, less is more.  The famous novelist Jane Austen [1] was known to be somewhat coy about her writing methods, crafting among the most witty novels to be written in the English language, novels known for their fantastic sense of restraint and decorum and indirect communication, all of which were matters that were tossed over the side during the Victorian Age with overblown novels that felt it necessary to spell out every possible implication because readers could not be trusted to draw the appropriate conclusions for themselves without being pummeled over the head with the point of the story.  Among the comments she made about her own work is that she engaged in lopping and cropping to bring her novels within the desired parameters.  There are times where we might want to have read more from her, but I cannot think of any occasions in her writing where I wanted to read less, and that is saying something.

Like Jane Austen, I have had of late to do a lot of lopping and cropping with regards to social media.  While there have always been disagreements that I have had with friends over political matters, as I have known many people over the course of my life whose political worldviews are very antithetical to my own, the last few months have led me to take rather drastic steps to lop and crop the political news that finds its way to me.  Once upon a time I would have been interested in engaging people, as politely as possible, in debates and discussions about matters of agreement.  At other times in the past I may have written particularly fiercely worded and detailed refutations of the idiocy that other people were spouting online.  At this point, though, I have gotten to the point where I no longer want to hear or see the submoronic dribblings of those on the other side of the cultural wars from me.  I have no interest in engaging them, and also no interest in even acknowledging the existence of that worldview and the disgusting garbage that people post in order to support or endorse their own reprobate mindsets.  I do not consider it necessarily a good thing that I no longer have any tolerance for its presence in my social media space, but I believe that the facts of the matter must be acknowledged, that some line has been crossed with regards to the political discourse of our society, at least as far as I am concerned.  I have moved from disagreement with certain political worldviews and positions to no longer wanting to have any interaction on that level with those who I disagreement, and likely many people feel the same way from what I can see.

This has happened several times within the course of American history, and in none of those situations was the result very good.  During the time where the American colonies were gradually pushed into rebellion against their imperial overlord Great Britain, the political issues at stake between the two sides got to the stake where there was active violence and bloodshed, and where ultimately the losing side, the Tories who supported staying with Great Britain, were forced either into humiliating shame or quite frequently into exile in what became the Atlantic provinces of Canada.  Some of my own ancestors happened to be on both sides of that particular dispute.  In the years before the Civil War, it should be remembered, there was physical bloodshed within the halls of Congress, and political discourse got to such a point that postmasters would refuse to deliver mail from a viewpoint antithetical to their own.  It would appear that we are reaching the same point in our own contemporary political environment, where it is not merely that there are differences in worldview and belief system, but where the lack of decorum and respect have reached the level to where the other side has lost all sort of legitimacy.  It is not merely that they are wrong, but that they do not have the right to speak, the right to be heard, the right to be tolerated or respected, or even perhaps the right to exist in the public sphere whatsoever, or maybe even the right to exist at all.  That is a scary place for anyone to be.

How do we walk ourselves back from that line across which is the belief that any sort of harshness or cruelty that we would show to those opposed to us is justified because they lack any rights that they can demand for us to respect?  We can do little about the behavior of other people except to present ourselves as good an example as possible; that is a difficult enough task that we would do well not to undertake anything impossible.  Our own behavior, though, is under our own control, and only we are responsible for how we treat others.  I have chosen, at least for the present, that I prefer not to hear the sort of continually irritating political discourse that other people would put into the public sphere of social media rather than to respond in anger and irritation as I would be prone to do.  I have chosen, in that matter, silence over violence [2].  Others may make different decisions.  I may choose, in a different time, a different solution, although it is likely to be a bad day for quite a few people if I do change my mind in that regard.  How can we get back to a point where polite disagreement is possible?  Have we already gone too far that we cannot return to more peaceful times until and unless the issues that decide us are decided by iron and blood?  Let us hope we are not too late.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/07/22/album-review-jane-austen-entertains/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/07/14/book-review-jane-austens-england/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/08/29/jane-austen-outrage-culture-and-me/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/11/10/the-jane-austen-society-of-vancouver-washington/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/01/28/today-in-history-on-january-28-1813-jane-austens-pride-prejudice-was-published/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012/12/16/today-in-history-on-december-16-1775-jane-austen-was-born/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/05/25/reading-jane-austen-by-candlelight-in-thailand/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/01/05/book-review-two-histories-of-england-by-jane-austen-and-charles-dickens/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2010/12/10/the-curious-connection-betweenjane-austen-and-military-history/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2014/05/19/book-review-all-roads-lead-to-austen/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/04/06/so-much-violence-ends-in-silence/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/04/15/a-narrow-road-between-silence-and-violence/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/01/11/seeking-refuge-in-silence/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/01/27/speak-now/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/04/02/i-speak-because-i-can/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American Civil War, American History, History, Military History, Musings and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Lopping And Cropping

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