Words Matter


An ad popped up on my Facebook page this morning. It was posted by a conservative political group. The focus of the ad seemed to extol the virtues of the not being “politically correct.” I read about a dozen of the comments posted regarding the ad. Most were metaphorically screaming “YES! – It’s my constitutional right to not be politically correct.” It got me thinking about the incredible power of words. I also considered how there are those whose words hold far more power, authority and volume than others.

Merriam Webster defines politically correct as: “Conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated. If I understand that definition correctly, the reverse would be that a person holds a belief that they have no responsibility to not offend others with their language and practices. Technically, I guess that’s true. It may be that nothing requires us to not offend others. The Right (with a capital R) of free speech is guaranteed by the Constitution. But in practice, does, or should that mean we disregard civility? Should we not be concerned with truth when we say something? Do lies no longer matter, if we say something that is not honest and truthful?

There are many words that seem to be intentionally inflammatory. A person does not use the n word to be accurate or truthful. It’s used to insult, demean and inflict harm on another human being. Many of the comments in the above described ad stated that “racism” is overused ( my interpretation of their comments). They seemed to argue that the word is now overused regarding those who are “just being honest and not politically correct.” Is not being politically correct always being racist? Of course not. But to hide behind the Constitution to insult, bully, demean, harass, and diminish another human, cannot be justified by saying “I have the right to say what I want.”

It seems to me that we’ve moved to a place in this country where we believe those who shout or scream the loudest are the “truth tellers.” Facts matter. Truth matters. It doesn’t matter if you are the President of the United States or the poorest, most uneducated person in the country – the words they speak matter.

There is no question that I’ve been provoked and succumbed to screaming back at those who post comments where I disagree. I’ve written stupid and insulting comments. But I’ve also come to believe that my words change nothing, no one’s mind is changed when I yell. Truth is not measured by volume or insults. It’s time I heed my own words. It’s time I stop reading ads that have no purpose other than to inflame or to insult the sensibilities of others.

Honest communication is built on truth and integrity and upon respect of the one for the other.” Benjamin E. Mays

Go well – David