Words Matter Concerning Violence
Words matter. Words have enormous power. Carelessly used, angry words harm individuals. When widely spread through social media, I believe words of hate may ultimately destroy our republic. Yes, we need to implement better background checks, prevent ordinary citizens from securing weapons intended for war and require gun owners to obtain and renew ownership licenses. We need better ways to keep kids safe in schools. Yet, our best actions will fail if we continue to live on a core foundation of fear-induced hate.
Following two mass shootings, I wondered, “What can an ordinary citizen do to make a difference?” Obviously, I can:
increase telephone messages to Congress,
send potential letters to the editor (which usually get rejected),
write, email, or text my state and federal representatives,
attend rallies and marches,
support candidates who promote healing
Although all of these actions carry some small value, none of them will truly have much impact. Maybe my best effort will be to simply share my thoughts as honestly as I can. With that consideration, I hope we can reflect on the following thoughts.
Every time our president tweets or makes negative statements about those whose faith or race differ from his, he promotes hatred and violence. As the leader of our nation, he exerts a tremendous influence. His supporters follow him blindly without assessing accuracy or thinking of consequences.
Trump could have a positive impact on his most ardent supporters if he would say, “I do not accept hostile actions. If harming others is your goal, I do not seek your vote.” He could probably end their bitter actions.
Mitch McConnell could renew our faith in the political system if he would allow the Senate to vote on bills written by the House.
The Republican Party might save itself from being the Trump Party if members would demonstrate loyalty to the nation and disagree with the president when he makes foolish decisions. In other words, if they would act like Republicans, they might save themselves.
White Nationalists seem determined to destroy all the values this nation holds dear. Without hating White Nationalists, those of us with white skin must confront their misconception of white superiority.
Ordinary citizens, such as myself, can bolster personal courage to state the truth based on accurate information.
The old saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never harm me,” does not portray reality. Words have the power to harm and even destroy. Although freedom of speech entitles anyone to state beliefs and feelings, those who exercise this freedom own responsibility to avoid harm to others. Freedom of speech also obliges those of us who want peace to renounce hate and lies within the boundaries of civility.
So, challenges sit at the feet of each of us who believe in the power of love and who honor this republic. I can no longer hide behind timid reluctance. My moment of truth stares me in the face. No matter how insignificant I feel, I must act.