“It’s only words. And words are all I have to take your heart away.” Words (1968) Recorded by: Bee Gees. Composers: Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb
He said/she said…They said/I said…We heard he said…It’s been reported that she said… There’s so many words firing through the air and not many reach the heart. Often they are aimed at the brain, the brain that is influenced, pushed and branded.
In case you don’t know, as many readers are from various countries, it’s another political season here in the USA. As a rule, I refrain from speaking on politics on this platform. If you’ve opened my blogs you have found me opining on topics which might have come out of political activity, but not politics, per se. Here’s another example.
Click the Food Network and you will find a mixing bowl of slicing and dicing of some of your favorite veggies. Some will be baked, some will be stir-fried, while some will be roasted. All mouth-watering moments of yum. Channel surf a bit and you will land on another sort of slicing and dicing.
If you watch TV news networks long enough, oh, let’s say :53 seconds or so, you will find talking head shows swiping sentences at one another as if they were..well…swords. Have you noticed? There are rants, rages and ravings aimed at slicing up the words, or thought processes, of the other person. It’s important to note there will be some you agree with, yet still, rants, rages and ravings flying faster than the blade of an hibachi chef. Most noticeably, the trend of the times is to interrupt and yell over the other person who continues to speak.
Earlier this week, I watched three political pundits, plus the host of the show, all on one screen shot in four different camera frames. No problem with that, until one person said something highly disagreeable to the others, and in one lengthy strand, all four were engaged in yelling over each other. As you can imagine, no translation came out of the verbal brawl, with the exception of who could speak the loudest. In those moments of feathers-flying, whoever shouts the loudest falsely believes he’s the one who not only knows the most, but is also right in his ideology. Honestly, it’s enough to make you watch a Gilligan’s Island marathon.
Have you ever been on a debate team in school? Have you ever watched a classic debate from years gone by? There were always rules of engagement, standards of civility and expectations of respect. In vogue now, envelopes are pushed, rules are ignored and standards are trashed, in many cases. The public arena is a fighting ring, or so it seems.
What does it teach us? What have we learned from it? Better yet, what are our children and grandchildren absorbing from the fray? I fear the future battles to come. Why?
For many, words don’t come easily to a mentally altered mind at war. Far too often we experience individuals who can’t debate their way out of an ammunition box. Many of them feel they have exhausted their library of words. When words fall short, some pick up long rifles. Just ask John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, or a loner on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. It could be that these deranged individuals felt they weren’t the loudest voice in the room.
Photo: Phil Valentine
I would be remiss, if at this point, I avoided the subject of ANTIFA, and other outrageous antics in public places, with revolting violence and words that urge it, or support it. As for ANTIFA themselves, there’s no need for me to spell out their doctrine. Frankly, when they’re not contradicting themselves, the rest is meatless. The word, “numskulls” comes to mind. How many times must we see these young kids, decked out in black with bandannas covering their guilty mugs, destroying property, screaming in the faces of the average citizen walking the sidewalk, or kicking and spitting on cars that drive to an intersection? Ask what the message is, and you’ll be spat upon or showered in profanity, or worse. Hatred has roosted.
If you adhere to this type of brainless anarchy, read on and see your future.
Out of this action comes deeply seeded rage, festering in the pits of the heart. Fools will say it’s only politics in action. Horse piles! These are highly disturbed people who do not see much of a future, or ambition for the days to come. We have seen what lies in store for segments of a society who sees nothing but hopelessness. It may start in a basement with video games, but later, after the energy for rage has faded, one may find joblessness, homelessness, substance abuse for numbing and in the end, prison and/or death.
But for now, these are the aimless, with violence on their minds, looking for any crack in the door to open-up their spew. Many are wandering gaming addicts, sleeping in their mom’s basement, just waiting for someone to call to give the green light for the next barn-burner. These are young ones who will follow the next person who has the loudest voice. If not, they sit, open another bag of Oreos, and wait. For whatever reason, violence, non-verbal skills and civil abuse will not only ensue, but grow like a weed in an alley. Wars have launched with less. At least the civil rights marches of the mid-60’s, followed by the anti-war protests of the late 60’s, had a message. Meaningful dialogue had so much to do with it. In the end: a better nation.
“You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing things with logic. True power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.” – Warren Buffett
Civility matters. Civility speaks, disputes and debates. Civility, when ruling the day, keeps citizens from bleeding, while others go to prison. Otherwise, it is difficult to speak four words at the beginning of a sentence only to be slapped down by a yelling, screaming mouth belonging to a brain full of irrational thought. (I know about this on a personal level.)
There is no civility police. We voters assume we elect adults. Adults have been known to understand how to control the tongue, to curb outrageous thoughts before they develop into action. Civility matters.
As for today’s political landscape. Allow me to say, be wise. Evaluate. Research. Read-up. Listening exclusively to the rants, rages and ravings will only get you angry. It will also shortchange you on depth of content. When one only listens to a sound-bite, or a phrase in a political ad, one usually is truly going to the polls uninformed. There’s also something to the suggestion of getting the ears outside of the echo chamber they find themselves floating toward. Decision making requires an astute mind. One of my favorite theological teachers says, “Text without context is pretext.” Know, understand and dig into why the content of a sound-bite rings right, or wrong. Do the research. Sound-bites and edited video clips are designed to change your direction of thought. I know, my career was to write, voice and produce promos and ads. The tongue is a sword, but it is also a rudder. You and your nation deserve better.
Communication is more than just a word, especially when ignited with fuel for the race.
“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large, and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider (how) a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire…” – James 3:3-6a (NIV)