“No Pejoratives.” It’s a sign I keep on my desk to remind me not to call people names …ever. Well, the truth is it’s not actually on my desk. I haven’t gotten around to getting it made yet. I’m going to …one day. But I’m such a stupid, procrastinating IDIOT!
See how easy it is to fall into that?
But I DO keep that phrase in my head whenever I write. It’s a rule of the road for me. And if you ever make yourself live by it, it will change your perspective on conversation and maybe even how you view the human race.
If you never allow yourself to use a slang term for anyone, you then have to make them human. If you make them human, you have to see their point, sometimes.
The people who are often the worst offenders of this rule are the ones who fancy themselves the most tolerant …
Hayseeds, racists, asshats, ignorant, backward, stupid, homophobic, sexist, misogynists …just some of the words I saw today, on a quick scroll through my newsfeed.
The other side isn’t better. Crybabies, whiners, idiots, fools, “libtards” (my absolute LEAST favorite word mashup and highly offensive on several levels), Kool Aide drinkers (although I think Kool Aide is delicious, by the way), snowflakes and snobs.
Do a little exercise with me: try to write how angry you are at someone or something without using any of those phrases. In fact, try to do it without using ANY slang terms at all. Being angry is okay. Making your point is okay. But …no pejoratives.
I read a blog by someone reeling in pain from the election. Judging by our mutual friends, he is educated and intelligent. And yet his post was full of all those names I just mentioned. I still don’t understand what he thinks is about to happen to the country. I still don’t understand what he was hoping for politically. And I have no idea where he sees a remedy. None of that was spelled out in his piece. But I’ll tell you what I DO know …he might punch you if he finds out you voted for Trump …because he’s all about love (he said) …so, you know …”LOVE people, you f&cking idiots!” (his exact words …minus the ampersand)
Does that make any sense to anyone?
I’ve read similar posts by people on the other side, gloating in their euphoric state of winning, and calling Hillary Clinton (and her supporters) every name in the book. Guess what? That’s not better. And the only thing a person who just lost sees, is someone standing over them …taunting them. That’s technically acting like a Bully. I’m not calling anyone a bully …but that’s how bullies act.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Small minds talk about people. Average minds talk about events. Great minds talk about ideas.”
The high ground of thought and facts and concepts and language and KINDNESS is something we could (and should) all aspire to. Calling someone a name shrinks the conversation from one of ideas to one of people. I prefer ideas.
We’ve done a lot of name calling in this election cycle. Much of it has been done by our president elect. Shame on him for that. But I refuse to allow even the President of the United States change my inner mantra: “no pejoratives.”
As a conservative leaning person, I extend a challenge to my conservative leaning friends: STOP CALLING PEOPLE NAMES. FOREVER.
I learned a long time ago, that leaning toward limited government and Libertarian solutions to problems, was not going to make me popular in mainstream circles. In fact, the simple stating of one’s skepticism over climate change science or universal healthcare and the suspect political implications that follow things like that, can turn you into a punching bag and a laughing stock, wishing you’d never opened your mouth.
So, here’s the thing …conservatives must take a page from Martin Luther King Jr and his admonition to black people in the 60s. We must always hold the high ground of language and never stoop. We’ve got a long way to go on that one.
We must also be so excellent at what we do in our professions that we cannot be lampooned with any credibility. My fierce dedication to my art is (in part) because I know I won’t get a pass from anyone for a misstep. Nor should I. You have to take me seriously as a human being …even if you disagree with me.
And, finally, our language and conversation skills must be so refined that we actually have to show mercy to the other side. And then …we should do just that.
Granted, our current president elect did none of that. Again …shame on him. Shame on us if we defended it or justified it or overlooked it. But I cannot change HIM. I can only change ME.
“No pejoratives” still flashes in my mind as I write. It means I refuse to insult you personally just because we might disagree on something. If you insult me, I will not return in kind. If you resort to that, I know it’s only because you’re either in some sort of pain or you’re unable to get a cogent handle on your own argument. If I take advantage of either of those things, I’m tapping into my least favorite part of myself and (unfortunately) the easiest part to access.
I’m going to let others access that part of themselves if they must. I’m trying to find parts of myself that are higher than I thought I could go.
So, try not calling someone diametrically opposed to you, a derogatory name …for ONE day. See if it doesn’t make you feel better.
If nothing else, maybe it’ll help us all expand our vocabulary a little. And if our cacophonous banter could be embued with even slightly more seraphic verbiage, in my modest view …it would be sublime.