Thursday, December 03, 2015

Are Our Words Important to Our Nation?

We seriously need to speak with more loving words in this country. We have a crisis. I denied it for a long time, but I've come to believe we do. I don't think we often realize that our words matter. I'm not saying that any particular shooting was caused by our unloving words, but I do believe that we live in an unhealthy emotional climate.
Stories go viral, sometimes instantly, and we get caught up in them, and we feel we have to have an opinion. Whether it's an airline passenger putting his seat back or a restaurant owner scolding a toddler, we hear about it, make a judgment, and we think it's our business. Believe me, I include myself. I got all caught up in that restaurant story a while back before I realized that none of us were there. 
We - as a people - hear stories about things that happen here or elsewhere in the world, and we let unhealthy emotions such as anger and fear color our judgement. We sometimes let fear and speakers and writers who are fearful tell us what to think of this group of people or that.
Fear has its place. In the midst of a shooting, fear is normal. When you don't know if your loved one is safe, fear is normal. Fear can even help us with "fight or flight" in the moment or in the hour of a crisis.
But if we live with fear and anger every day...normal emotions, but if we give in to them to the point of making decisions, and especially judgments, based on them, we can more easily make bad decisions or poor judgments. When our judgments adversely affect other people, I believe it's like a snowball, or a snow fort from which to take potshots. It takes time and effort to go from a snowball to a whole city or nation of snow forts, but it seems to me we are working toward it.
I wonder how inclined we as a nation are to putting people down, when someone who speaks disrespectful words to or about many groups is supposedly a "front runner" for one party's presidential candidate (though I do wonder where that title comes from; no one asked me). I wonder how much respect we have for the individual person when I see people say, "Those people"...whatever supposed "group" they may be indicating. I wonder what our vulnerable teens and young adults are learning when they see and hear fearful and angry and disrespectful words thrown around, all over the web.
I know it's simplistic. I'm a pretty complex thinker, myself. I know it's not the only answer. But I'm more convinced every single day that we need more love and more respect. We need to look at each person and realize that this is an individual; realize this person has a mother or a brother; this person has a backstory that we probably know nothing about (even if we know some of their backstory); and realize that this person was created by the same God who made us.
What if we looked at people who believe differently than we do or who make decisions we don't like, and we said: I wonder where they are coming from; maybe they think they are doing the right thing. We can fight for principles we believe in (whatever they may be, and my friends and family are very diverse in their beliefs)...we can fight for principles without stripping any one of their dignity, without assigning motive, knowing that only God knows what is in anyone's heart.
I'm not saying don't punish individual people, within the law, for hurting other people! I'm not saying don't stop people from breaking the law. I'm not saying don't work to change laws we think need changing. I'm just saying we need to love. We need to respect. We need to show our young people that their world, their country, their community - and today, the online community as well - can be a loving place, not just in deeds, but in words, words which often precede deeds. 
How can we fight evil except with love?