Hate your neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace. “Eve of Destruction” – P. F. Sloan, sung by Barry McGuire
From the gospels, we can glean a measure of what Jesus purportedly said. Much of it is good such as his “Blessed are” Beatitudes and counsel, “Sell that thou hast and give to the poor.” (Matt 19:21 KJV)
Love for and treatment of fellow humans was important for Jesus. “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” he said. (Matt 22:39 KJV)
But what if one does not love what he/she has become? Psychologically, it’s called self-loathing, which Merriam-Webster defines as “the idea that the self-absorption and egotism of the narcissist are a pose to mask their opposite.” Logically, Jesus’s injunction seems to give them self-loathers wiggle room.
Still, I don’t know what Jesus would say about or to them. Perhaps, Christians that speak or write with social ineloquence should ask him.
But I know what Poor Richard said: “Love your Enemies, for they tell you your Faults.”
In last week’s column, I posed this: Degrading and dehumanizing others indicates a weak and shallow mind, a flimsy moral character, and an insecure ego. So, why do it?
Shaming is an act of passion, not reason. It is counter-productive unless the speaker’s or writer’s intent is not to persuade.
Former Colorado House Speaker Terrance Carroll explained in a Denver Post column on how political and cultural discourse serves as a vehicle used to perpetuate structural violence.
“The language we use to describe our differences is the primary tool used to justify our biases. There is a clear and distinct difference between calling someone retarded versus intellectually disabled. One descriptor alienates and dehumanizes while the other seeks to maintain basic human dignity.”
Echoing the work of linguist George Lakoff, Carroll points out how abusive language is “the first step in the process to demean and dehumanize groups deemed undesirable.” Those groups can include people of differing race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexual orientation as well as those holding opposing points of view politically.
“The use of language to negatively impact the moral standing of a group,” says Carroll, “is a necessary precursor to normalizing actual violence against a group and its members. This normalization removes the moral guilt of inflicting violence on that group because they are deemed less than human.”
Those that shame in the name of being non-politically correct often are members of the social-cultural-religious power elite. They behave as if they’re superior, above public rebuke and being held accountable. The reason is that in their tribal bubble they are. Once outside of it, civil social norms apply.
New Age conservatives might call that psycho-babble and deny it such as they do with climate change, but the reason is that it’s true.
With Trump in the White House, political incorrectness is the thought du jour for New Age conservatives. What they fail to realize is that utilizing such language to make a social, political, cultural, or religious point not only falls flat among discerning readers, it implies inferior writing skills.
In his review of “Identity Crisis,” “The Forgotten,” and “Cyberwar,” Washington Post’s Carlos Lozada explores the escalating use of abusive language and rising antipathy and hostility towards women and other social-cultural minorities. He notes how the three authors each use the term “activate,” calling it “ominous,” likening it to how military units, cancer cells, and explosives are activated.
Acting actively such as for promoting social justice is vastly different than being passively activated, the way a powerful, charismatic leader’s unquestioning followers are activated. He gives the word and on cue they respond.
Lozada points out correctly that even though Trump isn’t the creator of white supremacy, misogyny, nativism or anti-Semitism, “his politics enables and thrives on their resurgence.”
Rather than getting riled when you hear or read mean-spirited invectives, try a thought experiment. Observe the source clinically. Thoughtfully analyze what he/she says and how he/she does it. Then, as Jesus said, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matt 7:20 KJV)
That sage insight hasn’t changed in 2,000 years.