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Your Opinion: Hateful language impedes sharing

Your Opinion: Hateful language impedes sharing

November 20th, 2011 by Geraldean McMillin, Jefferson City in News

Dear Editor:

Life is not a "one size fits all" experience. Everyone's life experience is unique, and our experiences shape our thinking and ultimate conclusions. Each of us sees the world differently.

The beauty of this is that if we share our views we can learn from each other. However, the key word here is "share," for if I insist that my understanding is the only right way of thinking, I will see no need to consider what others can teach me and they will not want to learn from me. Consequently, everyone loses.

In addition I cannot teach (or be taught) if I express myself using angry, hateful language that disrespects life experiences that differ from mine. It is very rare that anyone would want to learn from someone who has just insulted him/her.

In a previous letter I opined that effective communication requires me to clearly define my terms, as well as presenting an honest declaration of my motives for writing.

It is imperative that I recognize and admit my own limitations (i.e. knowledge and biases.) Therefore, admitting my own need for improvement, I hope others with such a need will join me in an early New Year's resolution to do a better job of teaching and learning by using "sweet" words to express ourselves both in spoken words as well as in letter writing. (Long ago I learned that when the need arises "sweet" words are easier to eat.)

Another insight (that took me years to acquire) is that I cannot be insulted without my permission. Usually the purpose of insults is to make me angry, to feel bad about myself, or to offer insults in return. But if I do not cooperate by responding in kind, I will have defeated my detractor. Despite his/her desire, no insult has been delivered; it stays with the one who offered it. I will remain in control of my feelings and behavior with my self-esteem intact. Why would anyone want to behave like someone they do not admire.

P.S. It occurs to me that Christmas is almost here and, if we all get an early start on our resolution to improve our ability to teach and to learn from each other, Santa Claus will bring us lots of candy and toys and maybe an up-to-date dictionary.