Our theme for this month: “Changing the tone of the conversation”
Our Bible verse for today: “Whoever shows contempt for his neighbor lacks sense, but a person with understanding keeps silent.” Proverbs 11:12 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Unkind words never help.”
As we near the end of our long discussion about “changing the tone of the conversation”, I’m reminded of the wise words from philosopher and theologian N.T. Wright: “Civil discourse isn’t the answer to everything, but uncivil discourse isn’t the answer to anything.” I’m certain Wright is correct. Kind words, and reasoned rational discussion, won’t solve all problems, but mean-spirited attacks and hurtful words won’t solve anything, not ever.
As I listen to the conversations taking place in our country today, especially in the news media and from some of our highest leaders, I’m reminded of a scene from the days of the ancient Romans. In those days thousands of spectators would gather in coliseums to watch gladiators do battle, and the crowds would go wild with cheering and shouting and almost insane pleasure at the sight of it all. It was a blood sport.
The verbal combat taking place in our society today isn’t much different. The warriors in the arena are often vicious and bloodthirsty, while their supporters cheer them on, eagerly anticipating the next mean tweet, the next clever zinger. This is happening on all sides and across the political spectrum. It’s not limited to one political party, one special interest group, or just certain individuals.
To a large extent it has become a blood sport and rather than being appalled by it, rather than being revolted and insisting that it stop, many in the coliseum are cheering it on and calling for more. And so, the situation keeps getting worse. At some point enough of us need to get so tired of it that we insist it has to stop. “Civil discourse isn’t the answer to everything, but uncivil discourse isn’t the answer to anything.”
In Proverbs 11:12 Solomon says that people who use that kind of uncivil discourse have no sense. They are not wise people. They’re making things worse not better. He goes on to say that a person with understanding keeps silent. This is similar to what your mother told you, “If you can’t say something nice about a person then don’t say anything at all.”
Maybe you don’t agree with that statement. Maybe you think that’s a naïve and impractical expectation in politics and political commentary. Well, okay. But you’re not in disagreement with me you’re in disagreement with God. Proverbs 11:12 are His words not mine. God is the One who said “Either speak nicely or keep your mouth shut”.
It’s fine to advocate for your position; you can even do it vigorously and with passion; but it needs to be done without being mean or unkind.