Words matter.

It feels as if there are people who want to live in a world where everyone snarls and barks at one another. So into that atmosphere let me write out loud my values, starting with this one: It is worth the effort to speak with respect to one another. And to apologize if we lose our tempers. Of course I want those who commit crimes against others to face consequences and/or deterrence, and I absolutely condemn crimes of violence and hate. Let us speak loudly and with outrage about such crimes, especially those guided by prejudice and ignorance. But I want to speak with a respectful tone to and about actual human beings. I want to condemn the disrespect another human shows me, without treating that person with disrespect.

This is sometimes easier to say than to do. If my buttons get pushed, I too might let loose with colorful language. Or, worse, I find myself questioning the basic humanity of individuals who have done things that I find deeply offensive and harmful.

But if I can take a few breaths, I want to remember that it is the dehumanizing that I find so offensive. So I’d rather not replicate the very behaviors I claim to oppose.

Deep thought for this Friday: Do not do unto others as they sometimes do unto you. Condemn the behaviors, not the people. Deter acts of violence and that which dehumanizes others, yes, yes, yes. But also this: Speak to or with respect to everyone.

And if you are mad, even justifiably so, step away and take deep breaths so that you can try harder to say what is true, not just whatever colorful words might come to mind at first.

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