Asshole. Ammosexual. Brat. Bully. CNN puppet. Cult. Devious. Delusional. Fetishist. Freak. Gun-humper. Gangster. Idiot. Imbecile. Jerk. Kid Killer. Lib-tard. MAGA-brain. Naïve. NRA Bitch. Pathetic. Pussy. Retarded. Regressive. Shill. Snowflake. Terrorist. Traitor. Villain. Wimp. Zombie.
Right now, your brain is whirring, trying to figure out which “side” is responsible for each of the real-life Facebook epithets above. Right now, the little calculator inside your head is clicking, adding up the insults to see who has more. Right now, counter-arguments are mounting like rain clouds and ready to roll off your tongue:
“The Second Amendment.”
But what if this post is not about gun control? What if it’s not about the Second Amendment or assault weapons or background checks or mental health or armed teachers or protests? What if I’m not talking about Democrats, Republicans, school shooters, the right to bear arms, policy, or even freedom?
This post is about words.
But what are a few unkind words when our freedoms are at stake? What harm are sarcasm and insults compared to young lives cut down by powerful weapons? It’s not “real life”. Just some faceless Facebook casualties in the war of words against tyrants and terrorists. Nothing’s at stake. No one has to surrender their arms. Nobody dies.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Put that on our national gravestone.
The truth is, as King Solomon said, “A soft tongue will break a bone,” and “death and life are in the power of the tongue,” or in this case, the typing fingers. With ours, we’re doing violence to our brethren without taking a single shot. We’re chopping and hacking our opponents into a collection of sexual and political parts. Our nation is littered with this carnage. Slurs run through our streets like blood. Insults whiz by like bullets.
“I’m getting this picture enlarged to use as a silhouette target.”
“Someone should have used that hanger before you grew up into a smart mouth.”
“They sure aren’t human now. They are monsters.”
Our war of words on gun control shows that we are not yet capable of saving ourselves and our nation by solving complex, delicate societal problems. We are not even willing to take the most basic step toward peace—recognizing each other as human lives worth saving. But David Hogg has an eternal soul. Christ died for Wayne LaPierre. Jesus loves gun control advocates. Open-carry activists were made in the image of the Most High.
That’s a squirmy, awkward thought, the March for Our Lives and the NRA singing hosannas together in the heavenly kingdom. We want to insist that one side or the other must believe, change and repent to get through the gates and join us, the enlightened, in paradise. But belief, change and repentance belong to all of us. No amount of whattaboutisms or mental mathematics can excuse our fault. All of us who have ever deliberately dehumanized another with words are as guilty as if we had committed murder.
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.”-Matthew 5:22
So, what is it that will preserve our rights? What will save our children’s lives? What will keep us from the fiery Gehenna?
Whatever the answer is, we will not find it until we find love. Not just love for the children or the Constitution, but for those who, to us, are both unloving and unlovable. Far from being naivete or limp-wristed passivity, honesty, respect, kindness, mercy, politeness, nobility—these are the bedrock of a just and healthy society. Acts and words of love are the ultimate political action. They are the only form of activism that can effect true and powerful change while still preserving our souls.
“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.”-1 Corinthians 13