Lower the Rhetoric
“There are a lot of people who are doing wonderful things, quietly, with no motive of greed, or hostility toward other people, or delusions of superiority.”
Sigmund Freud once commented that the hostility of one person toward another is a perpetual menace for society. It's almost impossible to say or do anything these days without someone getting their back up about it. We forget, I think, that the vast majority of folks, regardless of race, gender, nationality, or orientation, are simply going about their lives, doing the things they need to do to provide for themselves and their families. They harbor no malice toward anyone. It seems that we focus on those who gain attention by being hostile and outspoken simply because of their volume.
Most people, by middle age, have lived through hardships sufficient to take the wind out of their sails, and help them to realize that all people share a common history—all have experienced sorrow and suffering—including those one deems “enemy.” There is a near-level playing field in this area. Chinua Achebe of Nigeria said it well when speaking about people in that country who've been neighbors forever, yet find themselves at odds with one another: “So it's a matter of settling down, lowering the rhetoric; the level of hostility in the rhetoric is too high.” Lowering the rhetoric is one way to calm the waters.
Because we are creatures who rely heavily on words to make meaning, we feel we need to speak often, to explain our views, to win others over. But if our words are contributing to the hateful climate that is dangerous, and damaging to the very fabric that holds our lives together, perhaps we should use fewer of them. Perhaps we could let our actions speak for us. If we want to achieve peace, we must be the ones who bring it to our words, to our deeds, to our thoughts. Let's agree to speak kindly today.
In the Spirit,