Ever since I’ve been involved in politics (20 years now) there has been a phenomena that has troubled me: personal insults, instead of policy discussions. We hear a wide range of these personal slurs where one person says that a politician is lazy, stupid, crooked, corrupt, or worse. The phrase “you are disgusting” has seen a lot of use recently.

I can understand why it works, and therefore why some people feel perfectly comfortable using it. It’s very easy to demonize someone or some group under the guise of a meme or a joke or some other type of insult. It’s easy to bring overwhelming emotion in to the argument in an effort to get the other person to back off or to stumble.

We need to be better than this, regardless what position you have or what ideology you subscribe to.

We have to move forward

We need to take emotion out of the argument. We need to get back to looking at the facts, and we need to discuss and debate them with respect. We need to look at all sides of the issues; to recognize that we see things differently; and to understand that we don’t know everything.

Without that we won’t move forward. We will only move backwards.

Once we lose personal respect over a minor argument it becomes much harder to continue.

If we’re talking, and you constantly insult me, I likely won’t talk to you any more. And that’s both of our loss. We both have something to contribute, and we have both lost out on an opportunity to learn.

So how do we correct this?

  • We have to recognize it for what it is – an attack that has nothing to do with the issue at hand, but instead is meant to deflect from the issue at hand.
  • If we have any type of relation with the other person then we need to have a private conversation about it
  • If that doesn’t work, and the other person continues to hurl insults, then we just have to receive what they say, sort through the noise, and find the useful pieces of information.

We can’t change what the other person will do. We can change how we respond to it.

If you want me to listen to you .. if you want me to hear what you can add to the conversation .. please be respectful and please don’t reduce yourself to just insults.