How many years were we on the same Medical Staff at our sleepy suburban hospital? We were never close friends, but we could share a companionable conversation. You were a raconteur who would have everyone in the Doctor's Lounge listening to every word as you wove your tales. You would amuse and amaze us. You opened your home for Monday Night Football on a giant screen, back when giant screens were a thing to marvel at. You had a young son, of whom you spoke fondly and frequently. When tragedy struck we all felt the pain.
You were a skilled surgeon and a teacher. Our hospital was solidly middle-class, but there were pockets of poverty in the area as well. I am sure you served that population with the same care and thoughtfulness you served all others. Maybe you grumbled at times, maybe we all did, but we never begrudged the services we provided to the less advantaged.
We haven't seen each other for a dozen years, but when I received your "Friend" request on Facebook, I accepted without hesitation. I assumed that your feed would contain some chatter about the old days, some family pictures, some marquees with your name up in lights, a travelogue of your trips around the world. I assumed they would be things I would glance at and smile and think "he is doing o.k."
But your Facebook life is much different than I anticipated. The posts are frequent, frightening, and disheartening. I can't recall anything you have written yourself, the posts are items from others that you share. And they are filled with hate. They insult. They deride. They are lists of "facts" that any second-grader could prove is nonsense with two minutes of thought or research, "facts" meant to divide and incite. Most of your Facebook friends give them a thumbs-up or add an even more hostile comment. I'll occasionally take the time do formal fact checking and comment with a link to the truth, but it is so tiresome, fighting off this hate. I wonder why this is the legacy you choose to leave for your son.
Oh, I know that the vitriol is not one-sided. I know the Democratic/Liberal/Socialist/Left has too often given up on "When they go low, we go high." And I regret that. I take solace in knowing (believing?) that the majority of people under that great big tent do not yet fight fire with fire, or fight hate with hate. I hope we never will.
The make-up of our country has changed, is changing, and will forever change. That doesn't make America less great, it has the potential to make America greater. Can you "Share" this fact on your Facebook posts, my old friend?
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