Is Your Language Incendiary?

I think it I overheard Jon Stewart saying he didn’t like language that was incendiary. It was the generalizations of groups and name-calling which can only lead to heated discussion, not solutions.

Remember when you were a kid and you would be on the Playground with no teachers or parents around and the name-calling would begin and it would be directed towards one child? If the kid was really unpopular, it would be easy to join in. Gossip and unfounded lies do this, but so does certain lingo. I’m remembering how I had the Cooties. I never knew how I got them or who gave them to me…perhaps I was born with them, but according to the entire school, I had them. When I looked them up, one meaning read;

The term may have originated with references to lice, fleas, and other parasites. A child is said to "catch" cooties through any form of bodily contact, proximity, or touching of an "infected" person or from a person of the opposite sex of the same age. Often the "infected" person is someone who is perceived as "different" and bears some kind of social stigma: of the opposite sex, disabled, someone who is shy or withdrawn, someone who has peculiar mannerisms, stigmatized, etc. The phrase is most commonly used by children aged 4–10; however, it is also used by many others older than 10.

I assumed at the time they were a lot like the heebie- jeebies which is what I seemed to get when one of the name-callers would come near me.

Adult name-callers seem to give me the same uncomfortable feeling. I can’t even determine who is right and who is wrong when name-calling starts. I simply wrap up my heebie-jeebies, throw them in my knap-sack and take them home. I find it very difficult to listen to adults saying they hate a certain person, group of people, leaders etc when the argument is pretty much the same as catching cooties.

Name-calling is one example of language that is incendiary. Incendiary is basically when you use phrases, arguments or name-calling which inflame or ignite discussion in a negative way as opposed to causing discussion to take place, incendiary language will infuriate and cause angry debate or people to shut down. If you call your partner a Slut for instance, there’s a really good chance you are going to ignite a very hot situation, one that probably will end very badly.

Your partner may wear clothes that are promiscuous, the actions might warrant the name you chose in your mind, but unless you are planning on never seeing this person again, the name-calling doesn’t spawn healthy conversation. I think even if the person slept around on you and did things which were indicative of the word you gave her, what does it say about you using language like that? How does it match your character and the kind of person you want to be? If you wish to pack up all her bags and set them by the curb, that’s fine. If you want your lawyer to make sure she doesn’t have a penny for wrecking your home, so be it…but the name-calling is something that we should have left back on the schoolyard because it literally does nothing except make us look less intelligent.

If our hope is to implement change in any area of our lives, wouldn’t it make sense to simply be solution-oriented? If you hate some leader, could you not put together an essay or blog which talks about the actions which you disagree with? Does it have to be just calling them names and saying you hate them? Whether or not we feel justified by their wrong actions doesn’t give us the right to be the Playground Bully. We just gave ourselves a name then too.

I don’t want any name attached to me except for my name. I don’t want a religious or political organization’s name associated with me and I don’t want my actions to give me a name or childhood fictitious disease.

At the beginning of this blog, I mentioned how kids feel free to name-call when there are no teachers or parents around. It would seem that having those people around keep us in check, but I believe they keep us reminded. You know how I manage to not be part of the incendiary language that is happening? I think of my Mom, Dad, Grandparents and mentors and imagine them standing in the room with me. If you were to take the person you admire the most in the whole world and pretend they were sitting in a chair next to you while you said something which hurt someone else, what would they say to you? If the person you admire the most was a religious figure, how would they feel about what you just said? If you were to say the person you admire the most would be totally ok with me saying hurtful or incendiary things, then I would humbly suggest you find a new mentor.

I personally only want to be mentored by peaceful, loving, compassionate, solution oriented people.

But overall, I really want to say things and do things which cause discussion and don’t light the room on fire. Change might be much needed, but love and compassion are still needed more. They always will be.

Better go check my head for Cooties,

Karen :)

Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul: where there is compassion even the most poisonous impulses remain relatively harmless.” ~Eric Hoffer

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