Just. Simply. Stop.

Dear friends and family, I’m asking you to stop forwarding fake and hateful posts on social media.

No matter what your political, religious or social beliefs, let us stop attacking each other. When we do, Russian trolls win, hate groups win, politicians constantly spinning untruths win, and we, the people, lose.

Our democracy requires a well-informed electorate to survive; demands civil discourse and the ability to hear and evaluate policy differences to function; and inflammatory manifestos, smear campaigns, demonization of those who do not share your beliefs, and outright lies are tearing us apart.

We are better than this. Stop the free-flowing hate and misdirection that is being disseminated online. Check sources, check veracity, and try to hold back your emotions and knee-jerk attack responses when reading or evaluating ideas out of your comfort zone.

Disparaging and condescending attacks on others will never convince them to see and embrace your ideas.

When we do so, we are preaching to our tribe, we are reinforcing the walls we have built to keep uncomfortable ideas out of our bubble, we are treating others as less than equal, less than human.

We need to get out of the gutter, not be constantly disseminating the juvenile hatred that seems to have become the norm.

Our representatives in government need to model civil communication, free exchange of ideas, and stop lying for political gain.

As thrilling as it may be to see them attack each other, cheering when your side scores a point, becoming angry when the other side scores a point, governing our country must not devolve into entertainment. I like to think each of us cares about our country and wants what is best for it.

And I recognize that we may all have slightly or vastly different ideas of what that is.

Democracy should be the means to find a way to move forward by combining and blending all of our ideas to come up with solutions, not be subverted by a constantly changing cast of characters in Congress or the White House who seem hell bent on pushing through a partisan agenda for two years or four years or six years, whatever their particular term may be, with the cycle being repeated over and over by both parties.

When politics and diplomacy and democracy become zero sum games, we all lose. If our elected government chooses to not model integrity and civility, we must do so.

We can change this from the ground up, by choosing to hear each other, taking care of each other, and ultimately, simply by loving one other.

We can vote out politicians for whom personal and politically motivated attacks have become the default; we can push back against the idea that we are now living in a post-truth culture; we can discourage hate groups from using social media as a platform. Extinguish support for all who wish to tear down the country to remake it for self interest, who advocate violence as a means of change, who encourage us to demonize each other for self gain.

Stop them by creating a society where truth and kindness are the norm, and once again, since it bears repeating, simply love one another.

Let our better selves prevail in this dark time.

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