Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Smack Talk - Just Don't Do It!

I often find it difficult to participate in social media in terms of making comments on posts when it's clear that the whole story hasn't been told and told without code words that are meant to disparage another side of the argument.

I, too, have political positions that lean a particular way, but I am unpersuaded by shoddy arguments and by appeals to name-calling and demonization of the people who own other points of view. When my friends and acquaintances resort to name-calling and demonization, I admit that it does lower my estimation of them.

In this season of Advent, which for Christians is a period of practicing waiting patiently, I especially find it difficult to stomach the shrillness of the hate language that gets bandied about by otherwise good people. Shrillness is an anxiety-ridden behavior that directly opposes the tranquility of patient waiting.

Hate language doesn’t have to include four letter words and other expletives to be hate language. It just has to connote the kind of sneering at another that verges on the edge of wanting something bad to happen to the other. Some of my friends and acquaintances even go over the edge to verbalize the bad things that they want to happen to other people. I find that very regrettable and saddening. I find it dehumanizing of those of us who read or hear it and definitely dehumanizing of those who resort to verbalizing such evil sentiments.

Whether we justify ourselves by saying that we’re only venting or being cleverly ironic, or that the other side started the name-calling, or by any other excuse, it’s still evil. Being tainted by the evil of acting unconsciously, when we fall into the rage of anger and become some other creature, that is a kind of evil that we sometimes are able to step back from. We sometimes are able to come back to the sense of who we really are, and we can recant, repent, and ask for forgiveness.

But being tainted by the evil of our intentional name-calling and demonization is a form of hate-mongering that is much more difficult to step back from. Recognizing that we are not that person who purposely perpetrates evil requires a deep humility that many of us cannot bring ourselves to embrace. Recanting that which we said or did on purpose is very difficult. It often involves having to humble ourselves in front of others in a public forum, and that is very hard, indeed.

I don’t think you can ask for forgiveness and mean it, if you haven’t already also recanted what you’ve said and repented what you’ve done, and yes, humbled yourself before those you’ve afflicted with that bad behavior.

It’s best if we don’t go there. It’s best if we don’t say the mean words, the hate-filled words. It’s best if we don’t voice curses that call great harm to befall those we ridicule, are opposed to, and hate.

And for me and my soul’s peace, it’s best if I skip over your posts that are hateful, if I hide your posts that have evil invectives against others. It’s best if I don’t offer any remote hint of support for the momentary evil you’re engaged in.

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