Opinion

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Uncommon Ground

Productive Kindness

What the internet needs is the same thing that our politicians need, simple kindness

The young boys and soccer coach spelunkers captivated the world when storm waters trapped them in a cave in Thailand. Divers, including one who gave his life in compassionate service, rescued them through harrowing underwater channels. They’re heroes and illustrate hope in humanity.

It’s incredible that the 12 young soccer players and their coach are back on the surface of our planet. It’s amazing that on the other side of our world, we could watch the rescue.

That’s the power of social media.

Not long ago, there was no social media. I recall how my mom purchased me a Commodore Vic 20 around 1980.

It was a great machine and the first computer to sell a million units. Mine had the traditional 16 kilobytes random access memory cartridge and external tape drive that the company called a Datasette.

As a teenager, I promptly took to writing rudimentary code and transformed the television connecting the computer into a strobe light. I was overjoyed. My parents thought otherwise.

A lot has changed in a very short amount of time in our ability to access information. Today we can watch young cave explorers get rescued across our world or see the actions of our politicians even before the media reports on the occurrences.

That’s an extraordinary responsibility that most of us take for granted, like it’s been that way forever. It has not.

No matter how quickly today’s generation can text or look up knowledge on the internet, it doesn’t translate to productivity. Society needs action.

Twitter is buzzing with opinions on how good or bad followers feel our politicians are doing. To hear it on social media, Montanans like Sen. Jon Tester are either the best or the worst. There is little middle ground.

Today’s internet streamers can simply change channels to find alternative news that better fits in line with their current ideology.

When our president took time out of his busy schedule to visit Montana, it sounded like the same old update. Our president was stumping to elect more Republicans to Congress. He wrongly feels that one-party rule is best and Tester is standing in his way.

Unmentioned by our president was the simple fact that some of the laws he was touting as beneficial to Montana were written in Congress by Sen. Tester. In fact, our president has signed 16 of Tester’s bipartisan bills into law.

Sixteen is a hugely productive number of bills for any member of Congress to pass into law, especially a minority party member. In today’s rancorous political atmosphere, Republicans control all three branches of government with an iron fist.

Back on the farm, we daily use the power of the internet to conduct business or simply to discover better techniques that help us grow food. Even after nearly 30 years of growing food, we routinely find more efficient techniques on the World Wide Web. Farmers freely share information.

Data is powerful stuff. It’s why hackers and coders turned social media into a potent political tool the last election.

More and more, social media is turning mean. What the internet needs is the same thing that our politicians need, simple kindness. Kindness was grandma’s cure for all ailments. Kindness can cure our politics.

We’re all in this together. We’re blessed with a short life on our planet and if we’re lucky, we’ll make friends along the way. We’ll either do good or bad stuff and likely some combination.

Some want to divide us as a nation and a state. But our salvation rests in working together, trusting others. It’s that common bond of humanity that rescues us from the dark depths of caves back into sunlight. Do your part: be kind. Show us the path.

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