Do you remember some of the names that were used by childhood bullies — perhaps even by adults — to shame or embarrass you? How about runt, cry-baby, lazy, good-for-nothing, clumsy, mama’s boy, goody-two-shoes, to mention a few that we can repeat in print? Having been the recipient of some such epithets, I know that words do hurt as much as sticks and stones, perhaps even more. Name calling is the product of insecure folks who lack the ability to think logically, develop reasonable ideas and communicate them in a respectful manner.

In today’s world, enlightened people don’t resort to name calling when they get into an argument. In school, children are taught to find more appropriate ways of responding to those who challenge them verbally. Marriage and family counselors seek to help their clients to find more respectful ways of communicating. In the workplace, name calling is simply unacceptable. It diminishes morale and leads to ineffective and unproductive behavior. Reasonable adults are expected to have put aside childish ways.

If you accept this point of view, you must shudder as our nation’s chief executive official utilizes this device against virtually everyone with whom he disagrees — Nervous Nancy, Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco, Crooked Hillary, Crazy Bernie, Sleepy Creepy Joe. Further, the really sad thing is that his ardent supporters applaud him and encourage his outlandish behavior. And it’s catching. It spreads like a virus into the wider public discourse.

What can be done about it? Will it simply have to run its course as viruses usually do? Perhaps, but in the meantime the casualty list may grow long and our nation may be scarred beyond recognition. Is there an antidote to this dehumanizing behavior? If so, it will have to begin with folks whose emotional immune system has been strengthened by the realization that we are all connected. In words attributed to Vietnamese peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh: “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” We must learn again to love our neighbors as ourselves and to speak about each other more graciously.

Two sentences come to mind from my Judeo-Christian tradition: “A soft answer turns away wrath,” and “Be angry, but do not sin.” My hope is that some leaders will step forward who are angry about things that really matter — things that have brought hardship and harm to the poor, the powerless and the marginalized — and speak passionately about them, but who do it with kinder tone of voice.

For the rest of us, I suggest a simple exercise. Let’s monitor our own thoughts and emotions. Before speaking, let’s ask ourselves with the Sufi poet Rumi, “Is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?” Then let us choose our words carefully and speak in the manner that we ourselves would like to be addressed. In other words, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” As we do this, we will become a part of the healing process for our nation.

Thomas Reynolds lives in Bridgewater.

(6) comments

bootsielawson

Obozo and his traitorous actions result in the suspension of habeus corpus. Weaponizing the federal government against its citizens. IRS, FBI, congress, that's rat infested cummings to be exact against 501c republican groups. Guns to Mexico by ATF and justice led by obozo wingman. Millions of bribes to hiliary and all the treason from nsa ,FBI, JUSTICE, obozo in white house fisa, msm, state against a sitting president and you are upset at name calling? When will you realize the gravity of what they attempted COUP!

sbsheridan

Nicknames? Pocahantas is a nickname? Crooked Hillary is a nickname? This is not a precise use of the tools available to him. It's downright nastiness. He's lucky we didn't get a bomb lobbed our way when he started calling the North Korean leader "Rocketman."

prodigalson

Well MS Sheridan, what was the effect of Mr. Trump's antics with respect to "little Rocketman"? It led to serious peace negotiations, culminating a few weeks ago with President Trump actually crossing the DMZ, and becoming the first sitting U.S. President in history to set foot in North Korea. If Barack Hussein Obama had done that, you Demokkkrats would be demanding that he receive a second Nobel Peace Prize, but when President Trump did it, you did nothing but criticize him. Let's face it MS Sheridan, President Trump is mopping the floor with his Demokkkrat opponents, and making them look foolish. That's the real burr under your saddle.

mattnamyj

Our President is very precise and effective utilizing the tools he has at his disposal, one of which is labeling his opponents with nicknames. He uses this tool to poke and prod his adversaries into doing what he wants them to do. He has accomplished so much is such a short time, so many horrible ideas and worthless orders from the previous President require chunks of his time. We Americans elected Mr. Trump fully aware of his brash style and New York attitude, he certainly hasn't disappointed. After we re-elect him in 2020 he will go down in history as one of the greatest POTUS ever, even with some ruff edges.

sbsheridan

Also we should all strive to separate reacting from responding. Reacting is what we feel when first confronting a problem, such as a change, an insult, a set-back, whatever. Reacting should be largely interior and silent. Think about that reaction and decide how best to respond to the situation in a way that will make a difference. Once the raw anger has been processed, your response should be one that just might make an improvement to the situation, largely by drawing attention to its ideas rather than its language. Apparently, our President never learned this.

prodigalson

M S Sheridan, exactly who are you to tell us how we should, or should not respomd or react?

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