The words and language a person uses to describe their beliefs is the basis in how we communicate to one another. We all know this. The words used to describe ideas of political importance can have far reaching consequences, both for the speaker and the audience. We all know this as well.
On that point it behooves the speaker to use language that is becoming of a considerate, upstanding person with well meaning and honest intentions. Unfortunately not everybody knows this.
Some people, like myself, can handle the rough language of a typical biker bar and not feel ill at ease. Many people however, cannot. We all know the person who blushes at swear words or becomes uncomfortable at biker bar type of talk. Just picture a typical grandmother in a biker bar. She won’t be happy with what goes on in there and would probably rather be at church or some other pleasant place.
I think that in conversations on political topics the average person is much like a grandma. They consider themselves to be a good, honest person and they want the best for everybody. My grandmother at least was such a sweetheart she would be very upset if I used language that indicated I wanted anything negative to happen to anyone. Granted, that’s not always possible, but it is possible to not make yourself sound like a biker in the whiskey bar.
When I talk with someone about a political topic, I have to assume that they are speaking with good faith with the information that they know about. Wikipedia has a great introduction to what “good faith” means with this: “Good faith, or in Latin bona fides (bona fide means “in good faith”), is good, honest intention (even if producing unfortunate results) or belief. In law, it is the mental and moral state of honesty, conviction as to the truth or falsehood of a proposition or body of opinion, or as to the rectitude or depravity of a line of conduct.” Another good way to understand the other person is by putting yourself in their shoes or in a word, empathy.
Empathy is a topic for another article but the words you use can and should be analyzed. All words have a perceived value whether positive, negative, or neutral. Are the words you use to describe certain things mostly one or the other? Do you describe your views by what you are against? Or what you are for? The statement, “I am a nationalist and opposed to multiculturalism and the Hollywood induced consumer lifestyle of contemporary America” is a negative one. If you tell that to a grandma she will think “Ok well now I know that he really dislikes but what does he like? Anything?”
People that complain a lot generally love to share what they don’t like about an infinite number of things. The pop psychology term is called venting, just like a vent of hot air releasing the pressure. The problem with venting is that it burdens the listener with negative associations and grandmas don’t like negative associations. It makes an icky feeling and most people will do anything they can to distance themselves from the source of those feelings.
Since as an individual we are alone responsible how people perceive us and the ideas that are important to us it is imperative to always be mindful of the consequences your words have on the people around you.
For purposes of political activism, this is even more important. Using careless, negative, or hurtful language will make you look like a classless, negative person best avoided. The kind of speech that has always been important to me has been enthusiastic, encouraging, and helpful.
Arguably, all politics is about ‘something sucks’ and proposed solutions to that problem. What I’m interested in doing is raising the level of discourse about the solutions we have to those problems. By motivating instead of criticizing, focusing instead of not caring, striving for excellence rather than sloppiness, we can reverse the entire frame of discourse. Instead of being a movement whom 99% of the time talks about things they do not like, we talk about things we like 99% of the time. Do you know any grandmas that love hear about things you like, no matter how mundane? I reckon you do. I also think that the first time you talk to somebody on the street about these ideas with passion and conviction they will notice that too and will at the very least want to know more.
Happy mothers day to all of our wonderful women out there. We wouldn’t be here without you.