Peace Begins with the Words We Use
Bombs sent to the homes of former U.S. presidents.
Politicians being fired on at baseball practice.
Journalists being body slammed.
Political smear ads dragging candidates through the dirt.
Mobs chanting ugliness at campaign rallies.
Staffers shouting at each other on the front lawn of the White House.
Our country’s uncivil war is deepening. The divide is deepening. We’re seeing the hate and vitriol spitting at us on our TVs, our phones, our computers.
How many ways can one nation be divided? Let me count the ways.
Left versus right. Republican versus Democrat. Liberal versus conservative. The elite versus the working class. Men versus women. Citizens versus migrants. Friend versus friend. Family member versus family member.
How awful it is to see this happening to our great country. How far we’ve fallen as a nation, to be reverting to this kind of juvenile behavior.
I could point the finger of blame at our president – and in truth, I absolutely loathe the way he points the finger of blame at everyone and everything else but his own divisive rhetoric.
But the fact is, we are all to blame for this. We reap the fruits of our own planting, and it all starts with the words we use.
Words are powerful. Words have a way of taking flesh and turning into actions.
One of the principles found in “The Four Agreements” is to be impeccable with our word.
Right now, we are being anything but impeccable with the words we are using for each other. We are using words indiscriminately, to label and whitewash.
Every one of those indiscriminate words is fuel being thrown onto the fire of our uncivil war.
So, since we are so lacking in leadership and because leadership and change start with us, I am making myself a challenge. Five simple questions:
- Am I using my words to try to seek common ground with others?
- Am I listening – truly listening – to what others are saying and why they’re saying it?
- Am I seeing this other person as an individual or as a tin can with a label?
- Am I pausing to think through the consequences of my words before I react to something someone else has said?
- Am I being careful to get my information only from sources that I know to be credible and impartial?
To be doing the above is, in my view, the absolute baseline of what it means to be an intelligent, reasoning human being.
To be doing anything other than this is, well, just making matters worse.
My choice. Our choice.
Every word is a choice.
Will you join me in helping to return this country to productive civility?