I rarely read comments following a news story, but recently I happened to scroll down after reading about an incident of bullying and was shocked at the vitriolic, mean-spirited exchanges.

I expected hate aimed at the bullies, although I’m never sure how much good that does. In this case, more rage was directed at how people were reacting (having rallies of support, planning better training in schools), how various groups raised their children and finally at the various communities themselves within the larger metropolitan area. I finally stopped reading as the discussion degenerated into name-calling and arguing points ad absurdum.

What I found ironic was that while decrying the intolerance/ ignorance/hypocrisy of the parents/communities/authorities, the commentators displayed those very same qualities.

And why shouldn’t they? The religious and the secular, the liberal and the conservative, we’ve all become so accustomed to hearing and considering only those opinions we agree with, that the very concept of exchanging ideas has become alien.

I admit it, I’m liberal, but I put great stock in politeness, civility and moderation. I can, and do, react strongly at times to someone’s behavior — be it their words or their actions — but try my best to focus on the behavior itself and not use it to judge the an individual’s worth or humanity.

After all, I’m no saint. There are times when in my head I draw sweeping, stereotypical and embarrassing conclusions. And as I work hard to make sure those thoughts don’t contaminate the universe, they serve to remind me of my own need to practice what I preach.

So feel free to disagree with what I say, but please don’t assume it encompasses everything I am or aspire to be.