I’ve done my share and, I’m ashamed to admit it, still do when I don’t catch myself before calling someone a wack job or a nazi or an extremist or worse. I like to think that I’m better than that. So, why is it so easy for me to stoop to this form of verbal abuse? Calling someone a name doesn’t elevate me in my own estimation of myself (quite the contrary) so why am I tempted to anyway? I know why, and I’ll bet you do, too. It’s because it’s an easy and lazy way to avoid thinking about or engaging with someone who doesn’t agree with my way of reasoning.
I suppose I could blame the national ethos, the appalling level of political discourse in the USA, my general apprehensiveness owing to our society’s tsunami of mindless self-absorption, a devaluation of morality in public and private matters, and so forth. But I’d be kidding myself if I thought that would be anything but easy and lazy, too. It’s my choice to call names or not.
It’s not easy to drive by a house with an incendiary or angry or defamatory banner prominently displayed without thinking moron or moral imbecile. But even thinking that, temporarily satisfying as it might be, subverts what I think my principles are and diminishes any chance I might have to view another with genuine curiosity as to why he or she thinks it’s a good idea to fly that kind of flag.
I’m less evolved than I like to think I am. However, I’m resolved to do better, and one way to be serious about it is to resist name-calling.