Cumulative Days Riding: 162 Cumulative Days Blogging: 147
Today’s Mileage: 4 Total Trip Mileage: 1098
We are almost to Jacksonville Florida and tomorrow we will visit the first of three pilgrimage sites in the area, including two historical architectural churches and a nature site highlighting the beauty and diversity of the flora in Northern Florida.
I’m sure that some of my friends and students found themselves saying “Oh my gosh, Dr. Edwards has gone over to the dark side!” I want to assure everyone I am still my optimistic and upbeat self. The title of today’s blog came from a statement made by Andrew Breitbart in a Time magazine article. Mr. Breitbart is a highly outspoken mouth piece for right wing political thought on the web who the Time article described as a “Tea party Tycoon.” As I read the article I found myself shaking my head, not in disbelief, I’m a Clinical Psychologist I am seldom surprised by human behavior anymore, I shook my head out of sadness and concern.
I have recently blogged on the characteristics that can lead religions to produce “evil” outcomes. We have seen some of the sad results of this process in the tit-for-tat historical massacre of Christians by Christians and in the recent news reports of the arrest of a small group of “Christian militia” who intended to attack police officers and hasten a second revolution.
In recent news cycles a lot of attention has been given to “hate speech” or what you might call “alarmist speech.” Terms like “lock and load,” “on the firing line,” and “reload” maybe seen as a colorful call to arms by the people using them, but it concerns others with the imagery of armed rebellion and violence. Often the people making these statements will defend their “freedom of speech” and will attack those who raise concerns as being the source of the problem (e.g., the Obama health care bill caused the anger and threats of violence) and not the potential victims.
As a therapist I know from experience that words matter! Among yesterday’s news announcements was the sad story of the teenage girl who after months of verbal and physical bullying by nine fellow students committed suicide. Their words mattered… they drove a desperate young girl to take her life!
I have spoken personally with members of a Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville Tennessee, that lived through the terror of a gun wielding assailant who blasted away randomly during a children’s Sunday service. A handful of innocent adults died in the pews, luckily no children were injured! On the seat of the assailant’s vehicle in the parking lot lay a hateful letter targeting “liberals” filled with references to the “inspiring words” of a list of popular conservative talk show hosts. These talk show hosts words mattered… they cost innocent people their lives!
In my last blog we talked about the triple filter test. I have had a lot of comments about this post. Many of them agree with my statement that we would all be better off if we followed this test before we spoke, before we made public statements, before we stepped in front of a microphone, before we painted a placard with hateful statements. I noted that the three filters were truth, goodness and usefulness. I would like to highlight the usefulness question because I believe it comes in two variations. Is it useful for the person receiving the information (e.g., a compliment, feedback) or not (e.g., gossip, lies)? Is it somehow useful to the person providing it (e.g., advancing an agenda, raising alarm and/or money, undermining someone else’s efforts)?
As I noted in the last posting if Senator Scott Brown continues to repeat a lie (e.g., that Rachel Maddow is running against him) because it generates campaign fund then it is certainly useful to him given an “ends justify the means” approach to politics. I guess some people would see it as an effective tactic or a screwed move. I see it as nothing more than a useful lie, an example of false propaganda from a politician who will no doubt speak out of the other side of his mouth when he asks the people of his state to “believe in me” when they cast their reelection votes.
Mr. Breitbart’s statement, which I used as a header for this posting saddens and concerns me. He has a right to his belief, and he like all of us chooses the “process” he is going to follow in making his decisions. That process might be the Golden or Platinum Rule, Might makes Right, the Ends Justify the Means, it’s all a Game, or The Triple Filter, to name just a few. However, whatever process we use we must live with and accept the outcomes we sow and reap.
I believe that when someone chooses to place themselves into a public position of authority, like a politician or clergy member, or are elevated by the popularity and marketing of their opinions, like a talk show host, news caster or leader of a movement, they have a responsibility to choose their words wisely! Their proclamations should do more than serve their narrow needs, they should think about the greater good! We would hold someone in contempt if they shouted “Fire” in a crowded theater just to secure a better seat, and then shrugged their shoulders at the trampled people’s suffering. Then why do we turn away in silence when someone espouses hateful attitudes just to create distress in others or advance their personal agenda?
I believe that all of us have a responsibility to make sure that those who lead us, (whether Conservative or Liberal, Republican or Democrat) or act as our mouth pieces, (talk show hosts, favorite bloggers, or letter to the editor writers) or act as our cheerleaders (family and friends) or offer us guidance (religious leaders) do it in a way so that the answer to the “usefulness” question is not just that it is useful for them (e.g., makes money, sells books, strokes their egos), or even that it is just useful for our movement or side (e.g., we win the election, we save our school at the cost of som other school, or our church grows larger) but that it be useful for all members of the community, nation and world community.
I know I am a dreamer! I know what I ask is almost impossible to imagine in our present overly charged and highly emotion political and religious landscape. However, if we who represent the “moderate core” the loving, compassionate, caring individuals, and yes dreamers in every faith and political movement stand up and make ourselves heard we can drown out these voices of hate and divisiveness. I believe we can! Join me… stand up… speak up… be heard! After all we only have a world and a future to lose!
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