“Trump’s Mexico Tantrum,” “Opponents of Abortion See Long-Held Goals in Reach” and “President Trump’s War on Women Begins.” These headlines speckle the pages of The New York Times this week, loaded with harsh language, insinuations of argument and rhetoric of opposition. To me, this is a problem.
When did the language of hate become the language of America? When did it become acceptable for trusted news outlets, public servants and citizens alike, to use words as weapons rather than tools? When did the country that was founded on values of freedom and acceptance become so ready to dismiss the opinions and values of others, and when did respectful conversation become secondary to argument?
Lastly, when did American politics become a battleground rather than a means to serve the public?
These are the questions I challenge the American public to consider as we move forward in what is probably the most tense political climate of our country.
When we think, talk and write about issues, it is easy to be overcome with anger, hurt and confusion. But these feelings do not accomplish anything. They only fuel more anger, more hurt and more confusion. They strip this country of what it needs most right now: hope.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m angry too. I’m angry, I’m confused and quite frankly, I’m scared. But America wasn’t built by a bunch of angry and scared people. America was built by change agents, seeking a better life for themselves. America was built by those who saw a land of hope, and wanted to be a part of it.
Journalists. Bloggers. Avid Twitter users. Ehem, Mr. President. Nothing will be accomplished if we continue to regard those standing on the other side of party lines as the enemy. Nothing will be accomplished if we continue to choose language that would be better suited to tell the story of a bar fight than the news about public policy.
I’m not asking you to change your minds or beliefs. I’m not asking you to change your affiliation. I’m only asking you to change your language. To engage. To lean inward instead of push back, and to have a conversation, not an argument.
Forgive me for being naïve, or rather, forgive me for having hope while I am surrounded by the hopeless, but I think the way to try to solve some of the issues in this country right now is to reshape our conversations. Reclaim our words as the tools they are. Seek truth; demand it. Ask questions to understand, until you understand, and if you never understand, then never stop asking. Try to see things from the other side of the fence, and have hope that others will take a glance at your side as well. Create the change you want to see by being that change. Think about the values that you want to represent, and represent them to all, in every conversation.
Be a person that is characterized by grace, that offers an open ear and that finds peace by open dialogue.