There used to be a time when, if you did not like something, if you disagreed with a position taken, if you weren’t a fan of the music being played, you didn’t eat it, you respectfully disagreed and you turned the radio off.
Now if you have a different opinion from the prevailing mob, you will be mobbed and shamed on social media. And this is not only happening to teenagers but to all age groups. And it applies to all points of views from the most “conservative” to the most progressive,”as Frances Lee notes in an article in CBC’s Sunday Edition, “Speaking my truth isn't a free pass to be mean.”
And people are being mean to each other.
Now, I’m not one to impute largess to the actions of politicians; neither do I consider them to be moral exemplars. But the reality is that political discourse and debate has gotten nasty on Parliament Hill—and and beyond. I have just left a Facebook page that I helped to start many years ago because people –Christian minister—either could not read between the lines, or they were overtly mean.
So I left. I didn’t sully waters. I didn’t burn down the house as I left. I just left. Period. And you know something, it feels as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I might go back some day. But really, I have better things to do: like write a blog!
My parents, (like yours I’m sure), taught me that if I didn’t have something nice to say, then I wasn’t to say anything. It is better to be silent and appear the fool, than to open one’s mouth and confirm the fact. Just because you can comment on a post doesn’t mean you should.
Really, all this goes back further than the wisdom of parents or of pithy old proverbs. For us Christians, it is founded in the teachings of Jesus. Think about the “golden rule”: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12) And the truth is that this way of thinking is found in religions and cultures all over the globe.
We are learning that words do hurt; as Dumbledore says to Harry Potter “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”
Why can’t we be courteous; and if not, then silent? After all, a closed mouth gathers no foot.