Or, to be more precise, name calling doesn't work if you plan to ever talk to someone again.
But it can be a very useful tool for convincing your friends that you and they hate the same enemies. Thus, in politics - and what isn't political these days, from sports to entertainment? - leaders often say to their supporters: "Our opponents are extremists." "Their policies are stupid." "His behavior has been positively criminal." "Does she have a clue what she's doing?" Ridiculing opponents in this way can be a great way to signal to others that you share their values. It gets plenty of applause at campaign rallies.
It also poisons our democracy.
Name calling turns differences into divisions. It makes disagreements personal. It burns bridges. And that's a problem if you need to work with someone.
We use such language inside our political parties, even though opposing wings need to work together for the good of the party. We use such language in the open political arena, even though the parties will have to work together - in one chamber or the other of Congress, between the branches of government, in the statehouses, and in the many transitions between administrations - for the common good. We use such language to describe international leaders, even though we depend upon their support to solve the thorniest problems and bring about diplomatic solutions (for even a strong power cannot always resort to war).
Social media has not improved our behavior. It is far easier to belittle someone you cannot see than someone you must look in the eye.
We've all been there, we've all slipped into a rant that temporarily made us feel good and gave us a sense of camaraderie with those who agree with us. But what has it really accomplished?
St. Paul reminds us that our focus should be on the good things that are praiseworthy, not on shortcomings to be criticized:
Whatever is true,So next time you're tempted to affix some derogatory term to your opponent, tempted to make assumptions about other people's motives, tempted to bad-mouth someone on Facebook: don't.
whatever is honorable
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence and
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things. (Phil 4:8)
Let's speak in a way that strengths America's democracy, rather than harms it.
Today's meme comes from the Young Christian Democrats of America.