It is not surprising that the perpetuator of the synagogue massacre had posted hate speech on a popular web site for those who want to express hateful views. Freedom of expression being one of the hallmarks of our constitution, it is a price we pay for our liberties. It protects the rights of all of us to speak our minds sad as some of those views may be.
There is, however, a higher responsibility for those in elected positions to be circumspect with their words toward members of the opposite party. Public figures have the ability and power to set the tone of public discourse. The civility of our national discourse is directly related to our maturity as a people and nation. By that standard we don't have much to be proud of today. Words matter!
We may be proud to protect the speech of all. But can we also be proud of what is being said? Or by the civil discourse of our elected leaders?
When we dehumanize others with our words we lay the groundwork for other dehumanization. Words matter! It is why we teach our children to be kind with their words. Most efforts to rob others of their rights begin with words. Dehumanizing words are not neutral. Words can build up or they can tear down. Words can protect or they can incite violence. Words matter!
Let it not be lost on us that the pogroms of recent history started with words and ended with violence. The veneer of civilization is very thin. Words matter!
I like many have very significant differences with others politically. I feel strongly about many of those differences. But I will not dehumanize those who disagree with my views. Nor do I want those that I help elect to dehumanize those who disagree with their views. A nation that cannot be civil in its disagreements is no longer a civil society. Words do matter!
TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."