DayBreaks for 11/22/16: The Language of Violence
We in America have just concluded the most rancorous election that those of us who are alive can recall. Though the election was nearly two weeks ago, people are still marching in the streets, calling one another by horrific names, ascribing the worst possible motives to why people voted as they did. People have called for assassinations because things didn’t turn out the way they wanted. It has been, in word, ungodly, to say the least.
Claude Brown, who wrote Manchild in the Promised Land, in an article, said that people under forty in our society have never lived in America where movie language was not liberally laced with obscenities. He said that profanity is rapidly replacing English as the language of the American people. Then he added this. He said, “Most people don’t know it, but profanity is the language of violence.”
People say, words can’t hurt you. We know better, don’t we? They can hurt you. Words can and do dehumanize. That’s why in war the enemy is always described in language that is dehumanizing. You will never hear the military referring to the enemy as “brothers and sisters,” or as “children of God.” They couldn’t kill them if they referred to them that way. You use language that describes the enemy as less than human, designed to make us think of the “enemy” as ungodly in the sense of “not being made in His image.” Somehow, it’s easier to attack, demonize and devalue others if we can find a way to not see them as being made in God’s image – no matter how well or poorly they reflect that image.
That is precisely the language that is being used in our cities today. The language that is used in our society now is the language that has been coined in warfare. There are words that dehumanize. There are words that make life cheap and ugly. There are words that hurt people. There are words that profane what is sacred and holy about human life. You use them and they will affect your life, and the life of those around you. And they will affect how you think of others.
But there are words that heal. There are words that build. There are words that create. There are words that unite. There are words that can redeem. There are words that can reconcile you to someone from whom you are estranged. There are words that lead to peace. Who will be the people in this society who speak the words of peace? Should it not first and foremost those who claim His image?
Jesus gave us an example of the power of healing words when He said to the thief on the cross: “This day you will be with me in paradise.”
You and I have a choice to speak words of peace and healing, or words that dehumanize those we don’t agree with. I hope we choose the path of healing!
PRAYER: Father, there is much frustration in our land and in our hearts and we try to make ourselves feel better by attacking those who don’t think or act in the same way we do. Let us never forget that even our bitterest enemy on this earth was made in Your image and can be redeemed by words that heal. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.