Of Discussion, Debate, and Depravity

Today is Election Day and you would be hard pressed to find an American who has not been involved in this particular presidential race. Most people have engaged with this election in some manner. Even if you attempt to avoid politics at all costs, this election has been thrown in your face through Twitter or the newspaper or one of your friends.

As I reflect back on how this election has unfolded I feel nothing but sorrow. America’s election cycle is unusually long compared to other nation’s (for example, as of 2015 Canada’s longest election cycle was 10 days) and as a result, we have endured this battle for quite awhile.

We have been battered, bruised, and beaten down by this election. Insults have been hurdled at every side on almost every day. And no, I am not even talking about the politicians who have set the precedent that tearing one another down is the right way to go about things.

I’m talking about you.

Unfortunately, I struggle to find a friend in my newsfeed on all social media accounts who has not been unkind to those who disagree with them. And sadly kettle, my name is pot.

Any semblance of intelligent discussion or debate have been thrown out the window for personal insults founded on hatred for the other. I am not calling out any particular party or candidate, I have seen everyone do it.

I am unsure where we got the idea that depravity is the right way to go about politics and democracy. The idea that insults are the best words we have to offer one another. That instead of discussing the topics at hand we should make the other person question their character, identity, and morality because they think differently.

This is not democracy at work. This is not what true knowledge looks like. The cleverness and venom behind your words do not mean you have won. Instead, they mean you have decided that cruelty  is your priority.

I have been baffled by the irresponsibleness people have exhibited with their word choices.

Too often do we forget the power of words. Written or spoken, words can haunt someone for a lifetime. I can look back on things said to me 10 years ago and still feel the PAIN in my chest I felt the first time I heard them.

The words you speak can part the Red Sea, help someone find their path to refuge and healing or they can cause the riptide to pull one off their feet and drag them under, suffocating and drowning them until they are overcome with hopelessness.

Words are magical, brilliant, powerful, and dangerous.

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.”

And Buddha spoke these words of wisdom, “Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”

I promise you cannot fathom the effect your words have on another human being. Your Facebook status can evoke feelings of sympathy, rage, or hope. Certainly you have felt these things while scrolling through social media. Sympathy for the person who just lost a loved one. Rage at the political opinions you disagree with, hope towards those you do.

Every word you speak, write, type, hear, or see matters.

We grow up being taught to “think before you speak.”

This election has taught us to never think, always speak, and insult the person next to you.

But I implore you, please, do not use your words to tear people down, to hurt them. Negativity floods this world without our addition to it. Be a source of light, of kindness, of understanding, mercy, and grace.

It really is the least we can do, to watch our tongue and speak words of wisdom and kindness.

 

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