Actor Denzel Washington supposedly said, "With so many things coming back in style, I can't wait until morals, respect, and intelligence become a trend today." He could have easily added civil language to his list of concerns.
I don't know whether Denzel actually spoke those words. The quote comes from the internet, and if anyone takes what's on the internet at face value, they do so at their peril. Nevertheless, the words caused me to wonder whether such principles have gone out of style. If a person pays attention to social media, it does seem that way. While what is on social media is not a true reflection of the world, it does show a glimpse of society's shadow side.
There seems to be more incendiary, vitriolic, and divisive language nowadays. Words are more striking and attacking when people can express themselves anonymously. There are no restraints, and the level of abuse appears to know no bounds while critical thinking is non-existent.
Lack of seeming civility and divisive language do not just come from anonymous sources or people with little or no influence. People in positions of power and sway over public opinion utter words and take stances antithetical to the Truth - we are one human family, interconnected on a soul level. Recently, a talk show host opined people born in other parts of the world are "uncivilized" and "semiliterate monkeys." Those were some of his more charitable utterances.
To turn such a mindset around, perhaps Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was accurate in stating we must have a revolution of values. There seems to be unrelenting shouting and lack of civility from influential people that trickle down to and influence a portion of society's consciousness. Celebrities, news people, and political figures attack each other with incendiary words and polarizing rhetoric. Often their words heighten intolerance, potentially instigate violence, and serve as a substitute for reasoned disagreement.
A Hebrew Bible statement says, "life and death is in the power of the tongue." Indeed, our words have power. Even seemingly idle words we speak or write for public consumption have consequences. What we express about and toward our fellow beings on the planet can tear down rather than build up. It can fragment our shared identity as spiritual beings, and cloud the realization of our oneness.
We can choose to turn the tide on the divisive words and help bring forth a more civil society. One of the first things we can do is follow the advice of mystic Saint Francis of Assisi, and "Seek to first understand before being understood." When we put ourselves in another person's shoes, we can find merit in their viewpoint, even if we disagree. Imagining ourselves this way, we stop seeing people as opponents but simply as part of the spectrum of the human/spiritual family in which we are all a part.
Second, we can choose to challenge ideas and not attack the person. It's ok to have different points of view on a matter. At the same time, we realize that the person is not their point of view; that person's true identity is a child of God.
Third, when dialoguing with others, we can do so to expand the field of our consciousness.
Fourth, we can choose to never talk about how bad things are to anyone unless we are seeking to get an agreement in consciousness about the Spiritual idea, or opportunity behind the appearance.
When more and more people speak and express words that reflect "the better angels of our nature," the most dominant voices will be from those who do not shout, but listen and seek to understand. They then speak or write words with the intent to bring about the greater good. When that happens, we will have that revolution of values, and will increase the understanding of people everywhere.
Peace and Blessings,