We are, and will always be, an imperfect society.

Every generation harbors grievance and nobly strives to make America better. But today’s wholesale breakdown in civility, unwillingness to listen and process opposing viewpoints and general disrespect for one another are erecting worrisome obstacles. I blame technology, media, academia and politicians.

New technologies, especially the internet, have enabled and accelerated thoughtless dissemination of angry and incendiary viewpoints by social media. Websites and cable TV news networks, tailored to only one viewpoint, have exploded in numbers and popularity. Some in our media morphed from unbiased journalists into partisan advocates. Many of our colleges and universities encourage thought suppression rather than freedom of speech. And some of our politicians incite vitriolic disagreement rather than civil discourse. I believe this trend undermines the fragile, noble formula that created the most successful and globally popular nation on Earth. Why else would millions sacrifice everything to immigrate here?

Can’t we all get along?” are the prophetic words of Rodney King, after his police beating sparked violent riots in Los Angeles in 1991. Despite Mr. King’s legitimate grievance, he had the courage to stand tall against the resulting violence and retribution. We could use a lot more of that kind of courage today.

Geoff Emanuel

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