How quickly and harshly people respond to others’ comments, especially when the “other” is a public person who doesn’t filter much of his or her response.
But let me widen the perspective. Consider the odd mix of responses we have to people. Sometimes we are overly sensitive; many times, we are not sensitive enough. Most of the time, I think we respond in a way that affirms whatever we believe or whomever we support. And we will each bend toward certain people and perspectives. But let’s quit with the knee-jerk responses to affirm ourselves or others. Let’s stop doing what keeps us most comfortable. Let’s stop rationalizing our own (or others’) behaviors while harshly pointing accusing fingers and hurling insensitive insults at others. Let’s determine to look at situations from a filter of truth.
When we’re looking for the truth of a situation, we might not always be able to firmly identify it. After all, we can’t know every person’s motivations. We can’t personally witness everything. We have to sift through the sources we depend on – and that means even respectfully questioning the sources we trust.
In our determination to be respectful, we need to recognize disrespect and call it out for what it is. And respond in a different way – not with disrespect. We need to speak truth loudly and firmly but not harshly or destructively. Our culture has gotten too used to saying things and excusing them as “just a joke” or “just the truth” even when those words and the ways we say them are unnecessarily hurtful.
What should make us squirm no longer does. Hatred is not okay. Disrespect is not okay. Deception is not okay. Betrayal is not okay. Treating someone as if they are less than a fellow valuable human being is not okay. It’s not okay in a marriage. It’s not okay in work situations. It is not okay in friendships. And it is not okay in leadership.