Synonyms of discourse would be communication, conversation, and discussion.
Constructive discourse requires that participants be knowledgeable about the subject being discussed and that they be civil in their approach.
"As citizens, we have to be more thoughtful and more educated and more informed. I turn on the TV and I see these grown people screaming at each other, and I think, well, if we don't get our civility back we're in trouble." Emmylou Harris
And there are sound reasons this is so critical.
"When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency." Samuel Johnson
It would appear we have reached this point in our discourse. When we heard the discourse that came from “The Women’s March,” it was not thoughtful, educated, or informed. The vitriol was even more extreme than has become common place for these groups. It came not only from the typical intellectually insufficient celebrity, but from those who put themselves forth as reasoned individuals. We heard only support for the extreme declarations instead of admonishments for such irresponsible rhetoric.
These tirades that demolish the art of discourse, communication, conversation, and discussion are no longer unique to those who claim to be followers of and advocates for the progressive ideals. Those who claim to be advocates for principles of the right have become every bit as dysfunctional in the skills of discourse as are those on the left. We have learned from both sides, that discourse has come to mean personal insults and assaults with a liberal usage or dosage of profanity.
The common “go to refrain,” along with several preceding adjectives of profanity, is Nazi. Nazi apparently has come to mean anything one considers to be bad and with which they disagree. We must never forget that the Communists were every bit as hateful in all respects as were the Nazi’s.
We have reached this point described below.
All political movements are like this -- we are in the right, everyone else is in the wrong. The people on our own side who disagree with us are heretics, and they start becoming enemies. With it comes an absolute conviction of your own moral superiority. There's oversimplification in everything, and a terror of flexibility. Doris Lessing
Many of our political leaders have exacerbated this problem. These political leaders are not just the members of the Black Caucus and their sympathizers but they are political leaders often considered to be in the mainstream and from both parties. Names like Schumer and McCain immediately come to mind. Schumer seems to participate in this practice for political gain and McCain out of lack of knowledge and understanding.
As in all things in a nation like ours, where final responsibility lies with the people, we cannot shirk our responsibility by blaming others. We must take full responsibility for allowing irrational and dysfunctional discourse to have come to this place. We the people have supported it and encouraged it. We watch and encourage the most dysfunctional commentators, we reader the most dysfunctional opinion pieces, and we re-elect the most dysfunctional to congress and our state legislatures. We engage in the most destructive of all discourse on social media outlets. The more insulting and the more profanity we use, the better our retort, so we mistakenly think.
A free people and a free nation cannot last with such hatred and vitriol between its citizens. In reasonable discourse, we should ask why. If we receive a reasonable and rationale response, even though we disagree, we should continue the discussion. If we receive the ridiculous and profanity laden trite clichés of the opposition, excuse yourself and walk away. Nothing will be gained by engaging.
In a free society, we must protect the ability to disagree, we must engage in constructive discourse with those with whom we disagree, and we must always state our position from a place of knowledge, facts, and reason. It is in a tyrannical society that all must conform to the same thoughts with differences not being disagreements but being acts of lawlessness.
I pray we are not on that road. Tyranny from the left or from the right is still tyranny.