Recently, one of our esteemed celebrities bellowed “F$#k Trump!” during an awards ceremony, the response to which was a standing ovation. Our former president was called a chimp, a baboon, and various other simian types; he was also called a liar during a State of the Union address; the president before him was called a liar and a racist; our current president’s daughter has been called a c#@t; the former president’s wife was said to have a huge a$$.
Enough is enough!
I get that we do not agree with other people’s political views. I get that we do not agree with other people’s worldviews. I get that other people do not treat us the way that we would like to be treated. So, what! That does not give anyone license to spout the profane vitriol to which we seem to have grown accustomed. Rather, to which we have seemingly grown to accept.
I, for one, am sick of it.
Such profane vitriol does not apply only to politicians and other public figures. Just look at the Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds of many of your own “friends” and “followers.” If something political, religious, or any other potentially controversial subject is posted, it’s inevitable that at least some of the comments will include lines like, “Well, you just revealed your IQ with that statement,” or “That was the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” or “Shut the f$%? up!”, just to name a few.
I am not sure when it started. All I know is that I’ve seen the use of caustic language increase over the past 30 years. The increase seems to have been exponential, increasing in magnitude year-upon-year. No longer can we civilly disagree with or even confront someone. No. We must try to belittle them. We must call them names (whether justified or not). We must question their intelligence, their integrity, or both. We must, of foremost importance, shut them up.
Don’t get me wrong. If you look back at my own social media history you’ll find that I, too, have contributed to the vitriol. I believe, however, that in social media time, that is now ancient history. I decided at least two years ago to make a concerted effort to not engage in such a way. After all, it does no one any good. It did me no good – it only raised my blood pressure and made me look foolish (some might say more foolish). It did those I was arguing with no good – it only convinced them I was wrong or a jerk or both. And honestly, such language isn’t going to convince anyone that you’re right.
It’s true, we can and should confront and oppose lies, heresies, and outright evil. But, we need not do so with wanton profanity and vicious character attacks. Remember, just because a perspective differs from yours does not automatically mean it is untrue, heretical, or evil. It may just simply be different. You don’t have to agree, but you also don’t have to character-assassinate.
I recently began reading a book entitled, “Treating People Well: The Extraordinary Power of Civility at Work and in Life.” One of its premises is that manners and etiquette seem to have gone out of style. The way we interact with others, especially with those whom we disagree, seem to include no manners whatsoever. I no longer want to act that way. I no longer want to be rude and crude. I no longer want to see others act that way. I prefer respectful, mannered – yes, civilized – conversation. If you can’t act that way then I’ll be on my way.
There’s another book that has, for several thousand years, provided great advice for treating others. Even (or especially) those with whom you may not agree. That book, of course, is the Bible. It encourages us to “. . . not let any unwholesome talk come out of [our] mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Eph. 4:29, NIV).” It tells us that “[w]hoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue (Proverbs 11:12, NIV).” Even more revealing, it says that “[f]ools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions (Proverbs 18:2, NIV).”
I don’t want to be a fool; I will no longer suffer fools. I want to be understanding, not nonsensical. I’d rather build others up than tear them down. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with everyone. Indeed, we can and should disagree. But we need not be vicious or profane (or both!).
Just a thought.