When President Donald Trump condemned NFL players for kneeling during the singing of the national anthem, all heck broke loose on Facebook.

Those supporting the players ranted. Those opposing the players ranted. Then there were those who simply opposed the ranting. Why can’t everyone play nice?

Really?

Though I am a pacifist by nature and tend to avoid confrontation, I love nothing more than a good political debate. In fact, I think what this country needs is more, not less, disagreement.

We are spending much of our time with our tribes — people who think like we do. Those who watch Sean Hannity do not tune in to Rachel Maddow. People want to live in gated communities, or those restricted to the over-55 population. I work in a fairly liberal profession — education — and most of my colleagues (though certainly not all) think along the same blue lines as I do. I am as insulated as everyone else. I was even embarrassed to drive a rental car with Kentucky license plates this summer. Why, oh why, did they have to lend me a red state Fusion?

This is why exchanging ideas with others is important. The problem arises when debaters don’t stick to the rules of civil discourse. Don’t get personal, for example. Don’t be simplistic. And no cuss words.

If I disagree with your stance on “taking a knee,” I am not angry with you personally. There’s no cause for me to insult you or your beliefs. We are disagreeing on an issue, not on our “friendship,” which on Facebook, admittedly, is a nebulous concept.

One of my comments on this issue, which was not in direct response to anyone else’s post, was this: “I can’t believe there are people in this country who want to be forced to sing the National Anthem and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.” My point was to question why we would want to require anyone to do these things. Isn’t that what dictators require of their people — to “prove” their loyalty by singing and pledging? Who wants to give up their right to express themselves freely, especially when dissenting from our government?

We wouldn’t be here if the founding fathers hadn’t stood up to their government.

I’m sure friends on the other side thought I was insulting them, but my comment grew out of my frustration with the way this issue was being framed. I specifically chose not to respond to some comments because I was so frustrated that I feared losing my cool.

Which leads us to the problem of shallowness. One might argue that Facebook is based on shallow narcissism, and one would be right. Still, I’ve engaged in some interesting discussions, and I appreciate it when people put some thought into their posts. That said, it was not insightful, for example, to post simplistic memes saying something like “I stand for the national anthem. Share if you agree!”

My response, should I have deigned to make one, would have been this. “If you choose to indicate in this way that you are patriotic, then good for you. But there’s no law stating that people have to stand during the national anthem, nor should there be.”

Yeah, that’s pretty pedantic, and I would likely just be preaching to the choir.

It’s simplistic to say NFL players should stand during the national anthem because they earn fantastic salaries. That doesn’t even make sense. Then there were those who tried to drag veterans into the mix: “They’re disrespecting veterans!” The whole point of taking a knee was to bring attention to the racism that still exists in this country. It has nothing to do with those who served.

I don’t think my point regarding civil discourse — no cuss words! — needs further explanation.

For my part, I never felt prouder to be an American than when I saw players, coaches, managers and owners linking arms or kneeling. They were making a statement and addressing injustice. They were doing their jobs as citizens. We are doomed if we can’t protest.

Now we have had the worst mass shooting in modern American history. The shooter had an arsenal that included automatic or semi-automatic guns. I have some questions. Why does anyone other than the military and law enforcement need to have these lethal weapons? What exactly are the two sides to reasonable gun controls when 59 people are dead and more than 500 wounded? Does banning some guns truly imperil our Second Amendment rights? How can we reach consensus on this issue?

Discuss. Civilly.

Liz Soares welcomes e-mail at [email protected]