Choosing your words wisely

Yesterday, from two entirely different sources, I read material that detailed how high-profile public figures (whose views I happen to strongly disagree with) have been abused and attacked (physically as well as verbally). For this to have happened to ANYONE is wholly UNACCEPTABLE. In making these points, the author of the two articles named Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, as prominent among those who have stirred up the people who acted in this way, through their use of words, urging them to moderate their language.

While I repeat yet again that I am not an apologist for Donald or Boris, even though I am more inclined toward their policies than many, I do recognize the authors had made valid points. I get they are of a nature that when attacked (in their view unfairly) they counter attack with all guns blazing. While some nice Christian friends can’t understand why people like me support them, they can’t be blamed for the attacks referred to in the articles, yet they do share a measure of responsibility. Instead of being peace makers they have helped to achieve the opposite, although it should be said, having noted the language of the other side, well documented attacks have been made on those holding conservative leaning views by those partly inspired by the language of their adversaries.

Yet again, I recognize I need to apply these same considerations to my own language before urging those who read this to do the same. After all, only two days ago, I was so incensed by certain people in the public limelight pronouncing on a certain matter in a manner I judged to be pernicious, sanctimonious, hypocritical, disingenuous and malicious, I referred to them as “scum” and in hindsight I regret using that term, but am mindful that we are at such a time in our culture when emotions are running high. While we may be inclined to judge people by words they use, we are often not in a position to know all the facts, their motives and rationale or the basis of their value system that cause them to speak or act as they do. It occurred to me I should ask the question “what would Jesus do”? It is quite clear from the scriptures that like the Hebrew prophets Jesus forthrightly did call out by name the wrong doers of the His day when they spoke and acted wrongly. Yet the same scriptures (e.g. Proverbs and James) warn us of the power of the tongue to cause damage, tell us there is a time to speak and a time not to speak (Ecclesiastes) and exhort us to speak the truth in love (Ephesians).

As I was pondering on these matters earlier today while driving in my car, I listened to today’s Radio 4 “Thought for the Day” meditation, this time by a Jewish rabbi. He made mention of a recent statement by House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, that the chamber had become increasingly toxic in atmosphere and there was a need to disagree agreeably. The rabbi went on to talk about the Jewish concept of “mensch” and this was the sort of person we ought to be and ought to inform how we treat our fellow humans, even those we disagree profoundly with. When I got home, I did my customary Google search and found this: “There are few higher Jewish compliments to pay someone than to call them a mensch, though, of course, a true mensch would be too modest to want to be complimented. A mensch is a person who can be relied on to act with honour and integrity. But the Yiddish term means more than that: it also suggests someone who is kind and considerate”.

I suppose, if there is anything to add that is worth adding, it is the words of Jesus: “go and do likewise”.

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