Remember when Facebook was a platform for posting pictures of grandchildren? And messaging family updates? Sharing a favorite quote, tagging friends in photos and sharing your new favorite eatery?

Facebook is now a battleground of hostility and accusations. Friends against friends. Family against family. Friends against friends’ friends.

There is no insult too cutting to post and no shot too cheap to trigger.

Seriously. And it’s not limited to Facebook.

What happened?

The presidential election was divisive, but does that mean a Trump presidency has to actually divide families? Relationships?

Kill all courtesy?

As 2016 unfolded we noticed many of our letters to the editor were becoming more pointed, with creative insults replacing compelling opinion.

In early 2016 Democrats were liberals. As we welcomed 2017, Democrats became birdbrains, according to one letter writer.

In early 2016 Republicans were conservatives. In 2017, they’re considered brain dead.

Hardly.

Every one of the 65,844,954 people who cast votes for Hillary Clinton is not a birdbrain.

And the 62,979,879 Americans who voted for Donald Trump are not brain dead.

And, yet, too many people on each side are happy to call the other names. Maliciousness is suddenly acceptable.

Why?

And why are we continuing to let it happen?

Voters lined up behind candidates they believed in, and for one voter to demean another voter simply because their views are different is a great contradiction. Demean someone for voting their conscience? When conscience is what drives us to the polls in the first place?

And, then there’s the great willingness to accept distorted shots as fact, which does nothing but feed the growing divide.

This week, the Maine GOP posted a video critical of the Advertiser-Democrat, a weekly newspaper owned by the Sun Media group that circulates in the Oxford Hills.

The gist of the criticism was that the AD didn’t carry a story of Trump’s inauguration on the front page. “It’s as if an inauguration never happened,” according to Jason Savage, executive director of the Maine GOP.

Really?

The inauguration was Jan. 20. The AD edition under GOP’s glare was published Jan. 26. And, as Savage so ably pointed out, the AD is a product of Sun Media, which also publishes the Sun Journal. That newspaper published stories in advance of the inauguration and on Jan. 21 devoted the entire front page to the event, featuring a four-column photo of President Trump delivering his inaugural address.

So, the stated fear that Sun Media readers in Oxford County wouldn’t know of an inauguration was false because the Sun Journal is widely circulated there, and readers were well informed both online and in print.

For those not familiar with the AD, it is a weekly paper that features hyper local news. In the edition criticized by the GOP, there were features on a plumbing program at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, a community food pantry, a school project to identify names and places depicted in an antique photo album, a listing for a public supper to benefit the Waterford World’s Fair and other announcements about local programs for local people.

It does not carry national news. So to suggest the inauguration should have been featured on its front page a week after the event ignores the mission of the publication.

But, then, that would defeat the GOP message. Right?

But, the message matters.

The GOP is not alone in its artistry.

Dems are message masters, and have gotten quite prickly since Election Day.

The party of inclusion has a penchant for excluding alternate views.

This party of peace has brought violence to its protests across the nation, most recently to the Berkeley College campus.

According to news reports, UC Berkeley blamed masked agitators for the violence, but how does that explain Portland, Oregon, where protesters vandalized 19 cars at an auto dealer? And Washington, D.C., where police used smoke and flash-bang devices to subdue protesters? Six police officers were injured there.

Of the hundreds of protests across the country, the vast majority were peaceful. But the ones that were not ruined the message of the rest.

The clash of truth and rhetoric, of struggle and turbulence, is strong encouragement to shrug our collective shoulders, ignore truth and settle for rhetoric. Stop the struggle and accept the uproar. It’s just easier.

But easier is not better. Easier is destructive. 

This is a great country, envied around the world. If we are to retain — and even build — on that greatness we must get back to reality. To civility. To meaningful discourse over blind dissent. To speaking up instead of lashing out, and to fighting for principles instead of fighting each other.

Our greatness rests in our own hands. Let’s not throw that away.

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