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Stop Before Judging. Think Before Speaking.

It has been a struggle to put my feelings into words.

For over two weeks, I have wanted to lash out at what I see as the opposition, condemn their actions, decry their ignorance, and shake my fist at their prejudice and violence.

But I have only watched and listened.

And there has been so much to see and hear.

I take in the news first thing in the morning and have done so for over 25 years. As a business person, journalist, writer, and, now, teacher, it is what I should do. I want  to know what is going on, who is saying what, who is selling stuff, how they are selling stuff, and who is buying stuff.

I find it all incredibly interesting. But it can also be disturbing.

And what has happened in Ferguson, MO, is disturbing to me. It made me want to do what I said I wanted to do in the second sentence.

Then I heard this commentary by Michael Smerconish Saturday morning. It only lasts about four minutes and is incredibly insightful. You may have to put up with a short ad to get to the video, but it is worth it.

Smerconish put into words what I need to hear and what I want to say. He is an incredibly insightful journalist and looks way beyond the headlines for a story.

According to Smerconish, we know some things about what happened that day in Ferguson, and we don’t know other things. Right now there are more items in the “Don’t Know” than the “Know.”

But that has not stopped us from forming our opinions, jumping in the fray, and shouting at one another…

…which is typical of the two things that we do which contribute to the social, cultural, racial, and political divides in our country. And we are all guilty.

Number One: Just as we form opinions without knowing the facts, we choose political leaders based on if they are in our “club” and go to our church…which is just as suspect as choosing doctors based on what kind of cars they drive. We also voice our opinions on political issues based on who said it and on which news site we read or saw it. Seldom, do we really research the facts and make up our minds.

Number Two: We shout at one another. Just as the officer allegedly used uncivilized, provocative language to Michael Brown and the banter was allegedly returned, we have no trouble throwing insults at one another on social media, out the car window, and on the streets.

Until we stop jumping to conclusions and shouting at one another, the violence won’t stop.

Until we start acting civilized, the barbarism will continue.

The fact remains that another teenager is dead. Another mother weeps. And another truth is yet to be uncovered.

Please, if you have a heart and a stable mind, stop before judging. Think before speaking.

The welfare of our union depends upon our doing so. Whether or not we do will determine the legacy we leave our children.

It is just that simple.

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