advocacy · politics

Have We All Had Enough of Nasty Words?

What names have you been called since June 2016?  A Wingnut?  A Libtard?

What names have you called others?  

In some cases we take the names we’re called and embrace them:


And sometimes they just hurt.

In a recent conversation it became evident that name calling has become so bad that when I identified myself as a liberal, the person accused me of using of using names like bigot, sexist, racist and others toward all conservatives. He just assumed that I was against him because he’s been called names by people like me so many times. 

We ended up having a pretty decent conversation that ended with a better understanding of each other and hopefully a lesson that can be applied more broadly.

But it doesn’t always happen that way.

Name calling interferes with understanding and empathy. If I want someone to hear my side of the story, I’m doing myself a disservice if I use name-calling in my tactic.

A quote that I dearly love and use frequently in my own life and in my writing is perfect here.

Don’t Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
~Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

And then the quote within the quote:

What others say and do is a projection of their own reality…

What I say and do is a projection of my reality.

How do I want to project my reality?  Do I want people to see a person who derides the POTUS and all who voted for him?  A bitter person who paints all those who disagree with me with a broad stroke?  Or do I want to remain open to conversation and understanding with those who don’t share my opinions?  If my desire is the latter (and it is), then if I choose to use slurs or insults, I have undermined my own goals and desires.

There is a simmering resentment bubbling up and nearing a full, rolling boil, and if we let it boil over, or contribute to the boiling over, then we must understand that not just the other side, but our own side also will be burned when the pot boils over. 

I don’t stand clean in this area. I shared a quote suggesting that a subset of Trump supporters were “hypocrites”. I didn’t realize how much so before I posted it, but the use of the term “hypocrite” really chaffed some hides, and rightly so. To those who were chaffed by my choice of words, I apologize.

But some stances and actions are hypocritical or bigoted or sexist, and those do need to be called out. So must we remain silent when we witness wrong actions and words?  Absolutely not!

Might I suggest applying the principle “people first language”?

People-first language is a type of linguistic prescription in English. It aims to avoid perceived and subconscious dehumanization when discussing people with disabilities and is sometimes referred to as a type of disability etiquette.

~Wikipedia

People first language is important to me as a parent of children with Down syndrome. It places emphasis on a person as a human being who has certain characteristics. Rather than a “Downs kid”, I have kids with Down syndrome (or Downs). There’s more to my boys than Down syndrome, it’s only one of many descriptors that can be applied to them.

Using that principle, rather that calling someone a bigot, point out a bigoted statement. Rather than referring to someone as a Libtard, point out the discrepancies in their reasoning and why you disagree.

And furthermore, our President is not a Cheeto, a Drumpf, the Orange One, or anything else. He is the POTUS, and no matter how much you dislike him, please preserve your own dignity by calling him by his name, by his title, or even just “45”.  If you do not have the composure to refrain from slurring the president, then maybe you should do what your mama always said and say nothing at all.

While I am “only” 43 and haven’t lived as much history as many of my friends, I have never experienced the deep divisions and animosity of our current political climate. I’m not the most patriotic person in the world, but at the end of the day, this country is all I’ve ever known. I want it to remain intact and stable, and frankly I want to be able to enjoy a meal with all of my loved ones, who voted in many different ways, without tensions interfering.

As I hop down off my soapbox, I’ll share one last thought. In my family I’m the one who leapt across the aisle. Many of my loved ones have very different political views from my own. I cannot abide the thought of my parents or siblings being painted as racist, sexist or anything else because of their political affiliation, because they are nothing of the sort.  I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that our hearts are desiring of the same things and grieve the same things, but that we see different solutions. We have common ground and divergence and trust each other to both be following our conscience and Christ himself to the best of our human abilities.

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