It seems all too common now for us to accuse each other of being stupid, crazy, or evil simply for holding different views on just about anything. Of course, the language can be much fouler and more abusive than these simple terms. This practice is especially disturbing in confrontations over religion and politics, where our most intelligent, best educated, wisest, most insightful, and most creative minds have always come to a broad range of differing possibilities and conclusions.
We often try to excuse this behavior by saying we don’t really mean it. We say it’s just a way to get our points across, yet we feel proud and powerful when it silences others or drives them to distraction. We say people shouldn’t be so sensitive, and then blame them for becoming upset by words we secretly hoped would be upsetting. Moreover, when we find ourselves in an all-out battle of insults, we accuse the other side of being irrational, obnoxious, bigoted, and dangerous.
Do we realize what we are doing to each other and to ourselves when we speak this way? Such attitudes increasingly erode our ability to talk with each other about anything truly meaningful. In turn, our ability to live together in peace, liberty, and well-being also erodes.
It’s time to stop contributing to the erosion and start contributing to the healing. Please join me in vowing to stop practicing this sort of speech and instead to speak with civility. It won’t always be easy, but I believe it’s worth the effort.
I do so vow.
– Chuck Dunning, TCU Staff