Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Toxicity of Words

I wrote in March 2014 a blog with this same title.  I was reminded of it last night as I watched what was happening in Chicago.  A part of me resists making any comment about the situation, but another part of me demands it!  

Mr. Trump’s rhetoric over the past months has been toxic.  One news commentator said, “This is politics.”  I refute that!  Politics is a nasty business especially during election years—always has been and always will be—but what is happening before our eyes is not just nasty, it is inciting hate, violence and discord.  It is being done consciously and purposely. What we witnessed in North Carolina and in Chicago this past week is a direct result of Mr. Trump’s toxic and twisted words.  How twisted?  Last night he repeated over and over again in a telephone interview with MSNBC, “We can’t even hold a rally in America anymore.”  That is not at all true (both he and other candidates have been holding rallies for months—and by the way, rallies held by the other candidates have not had trouble with protesters) but by repeating “We can’t even hold a rally in America anymore,” over and over again, gullible people will believe it to be true.
"This land belongs to you and me!"

The toxicity of Trump’s rhetoric is well publicized.  ”If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them," he said at a February rally in Iowa. "Just knock the hell out of them. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”  "I don't have regrets," Trump said last night, "These were very, very bad protesters. These were bad dudes. They were rough, tough guys." "I love the old days, you know? You know what I hate? There's a guy totally disruptive, throwing punches, we're not allowed punch back anymore. ... I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell ya." –Donald Trump on how he would handle a protester in Nevada, sparking roaring applause from the audience on February 22, 2016.  If we are not careful, we (who disagree with Mr. Trump) may ourselves be “carried out on stretchers.”

Human speech, says James in the New Testament, seems innocent enough.  After all, the tongue is just a small part of the body.  Yet despite its size, the tongue is like a bit that controls a horse or a rudder that steers an enormous ship.  The tongue can burn like a raging forest fire incinerating everything it touches.  It can corrupt both the subject and the object of speech.  What we say to one another can be "full of deadly poison" that kills.

The power of the uncontrolled tongue (toxic rhetoric) is a serious problem.  Our words have power--power for good or for evil.  What we say to one another can exclude or embrace, heal or humiliate, lift up or tear down. What we say to one another or about one another reveals more about us than about the person to whom or about whom we speak our words.  That's a scary part about toxic talk--it reveals the character of our own inner identity.  We project on others that which we refuse to deal with within ourselves.  We put other people down in order to raise ourselves up or to insure our own superiority.

No comments:

Post a Comment