Three Ways Contempt is Polluting Politics

 

This political season has reminded me of none other in its sheer viciousness. The art of attacking has reached epic proportions. The candidates do it. The pundits do it. We do it. If any of us conducted ourselves in person as we feel emboldened to do on social media, we’d be out of a job and perhaps out of friends.

 

We deserve more from each other.

 

My disappointment comes down to the one word that destroys all relationships, even relationships across political maps and perspectives: contempt.

 

We’re Armed and Ready For Battle

 

I see three ways contempt is not only polluting politics, but destroying any unity that historically has bound us together, even in the midst of our differences.

 

  1. Contempt damages respect. Where there is no respect, there is little room for mutuality or common ground. We throw polite, even religious bombs from the safety of our computer keyboard without acknowledging the sincere, if different beliefs of those reading. We don’t see the explosion on the other side of the screen as others read our words. We don’t see the anger and resentment that builds inside as a result of our disrespect and contempt. We can hold our beliefs and values. We can share them openly without using contempt as a means to make us feel like we are winning. We are not winning. No one is winning.
  2. Contempt kills safety. Both sides show contempt. Both sides hurl insults, call names. Calling names will completely destroy any safety in our relationships. Yet we feel empowered to do so because we routinely see our candidates, pundits, and leaders spewing hate-filled aspersions toward anyone with whom they disagree. My mother used to tell me that smart people had better vocabularies and could find better words to describe their differences. Calling names was prohibited in our home as vulgar and disrespectful. Yet in the current political climate contemptuous name-calling has proliferated in its routine and acceptance. Weren’t we taught better?
  3.  Contempt destroys relationships. Science has long known that in relationships, contempt is a relationship killer. Dr. John Gottman, one of the leading relationship researchers has found contempt to be one of four ‘Horseman of the Apocalypse,’ deadly to the life and stability of any relationship. We are more divided as a nation and a people than ever. Our relationships are crumbling.

 

We will only make it as a nation if we make it together.Click To Tweet

 

The myth we buy into is that if our side wins, we can do everything we want and ignore everyone with whom we disagree. We’ve witnessed this in the last few decades. The truth is we cannot survive without each other. We need each other. We need to learn how to communicate, to hold our beliefs and values while learning how to disagree respectfully, kindly, graciously. We need to remove the viciousness and contempt from our dialogue.

 

We routinely denounce the candidates as needing to set the tone, but isn’t it up to the people to set the tone for how we talk with others as well as for what we expect from our candidates and leaders?

 

What Needs To Change – Respect

 

Our leaders will only begin to respect one another if we as a people learn to respect one another —not just those who share our political viewpoints. Because conservatives believe in the rule of law regarding illegal immigration and border security does not mean they are racists. Likewise, because progressives believe in government as the solution to economic and social issues does not mean they are welfare hacks.

 

Some might say, “What’s the point? This is the only way to be heard,” or “Why bother?” We try because we should all be on the journey of healing, learning, and growing. We should require better of ourselves. We should inspire others to be better, to speak better, to behave better. Besides, as my mother used to say, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

 

Yes, It’s Okay To Disagree

 

Our politics has historically been a vibrant display of differing viewpoints. Our republic can handle disagreements, even rowdy ones. What we cannot handle is the disrespect, the contempt and the name-calling. It will ultimately cost us the country we love.

 

Stop the name-calling. Remove the “-ists” and “-ics” from your dialogue as well as your Facebook posts.  It diminishes no one but you.  Everyone has arrived at their beliefs honestly. We can hold our perspectives, share them and even debate them with integrity, wisdom, and respect.  

 

Next time you feel compelled to post on social media, ask yourself if your words are respectful? Are they gracious, even to others who have opposing views? Are you calling anyone names? Choose your words wisely. We have seen how our words can wound and destroy. But our words also have the power to bring life and healing to a nation. Let’s raise the bar.

 

Our words have the power to bring life and healing to a nation. Let’s raise the bar.Click To Tweet

 

Can you recall a time when you said something you later regretted? Leave your comment below. I’d love to have you join the conversation!

My new book, Peace For A Lifetime shares the power of our words and how important healthy communication is to every relationship in our lives.  To learn more about the book, click here.  To order the book now, click here!

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22 Comments

  1. Well said.
    May God give us wisdom and grace to walk through this charged political climate without doing damage with our words and attitudes!

  2. YES LISA! Shared on twitter!

  3. Thanks, Lisa, for this forthright post about the challenge facing this nation and the personal responsibility each of us has for our response to the things swirling around and inundating us. Happy to be your neighbor at the Linkup at Coffee for Your Heart today.

    • lisamurray

      April 3, 2016 at 6:33 PM

      Thank you, Pam! It is such a great challenge for each of us, but really the only way I see to forge common ground. Blessings!

  4. I have refrained from posting on social media concerning the election. I had a friend once say that if doesn’t further the gospel that it is not worth saying. It made me think of 2 Timothy 2. I realized I was trying to lift anyone up even if I wasn’t even putting them down and just stating the truth. It was amazing to see when I refrained from doing it, God gave me this unbelievable peace. I do have to sadly say that I don’t pray as much as I did before about the election because that’s where the real battle is at. Thanks for sharing. visiting from holley’s linkup #49

    • lisamurray

      April 3, 2016 at 6:35 PM

      Thank you, Kristina! I love hearing you describe the peace that comes from not allowing ourselves to become engaged in a battle. Blessings and happy to have you stop by today!

  5. Amen!!! Thank you, Lisa, for saying everything I have been thinking and saying to people myself. I will be promoting this post on Facebook and Twitter. I truly hope more people start listening and that we are able to come together as Americans, without contempt.

  6. Lisa, you are so right! When I watch what’s happening in the world, especially politics I see such a lack of respect that is damaging to our society. I need to pray more for our country but I also need to do my part in making sure I’m treating others with respect and showing it even through my social media accounts. You wrote, “Choose your words wisely.” Yes indeed!

    • lisamurray

      April 3, 2016 at 6:43 PM

      Yes, Crystal! Change begins with us – even if it’s small changes. Respect can grow and change a family and a community, even a nation. I believe it! Thanks for stopping by today!

  7. Ugh this is unfortunately true! I know I was raised better and cringe when I hear what is said or typed. I pray we find common ground and respect again!

  8. Lisa, this is so good! I have also noticed all the bickering and name calling which seems worse than other times. I think you are right that contempt plays a big part. We do need to learn to show respect even with those who disagree, even if we don’t understand how they came to their conclusions. If we can listen to each other and show respect to everyone regardless of their beliefs, we would go so much farther in restoring relationships and building up our country rather than tearing it down. Blessings to you!

    • lisamurray

      April 3, 2016 at 6:41 PM

      Gayl,
      Love your wisdom. How important it is to listen and show respect, even if we disagree. That is how we find common ground. Blessings, friend!

  9. Hi, Lisa. I agree, the level of contempt we are seeing in politics is disappointing. I am unable to listen to any politician who engages in this way. It’s not how I live my life and don’t expect it in our nation’s leadership. I found you from the SittsGirls Saturday link-up. Donna (JustOne Donna)

  10. Thank you, Lisa, for this post. It is sad that contempt seems to be the common theme in our politics. I am praying we can find that unity. Even among Christians, where the opinion that if you vote for one candidate or another you can’t possibly be a Christian. We may each have our opinions and they may all differ depending on our life experiences, but contempt for one another should never trump compassion.
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

    • lisamurray

      April 3, 2016 at 6:38 PM

      Love this – contempt should never trump compassion! Thank you for stopping by. Love reading your thoughts and utterly agree. Blessings, friend!

  11. It’s so hard to be on social media these days with all of the talk about politics. And the politics themselves. I know we need to pray for our governmental leaders and I hope and pray that God can break through to the heart of the man (or woman) who is next to lead this nation.

    • lisamurray

      April 3, 2016 at 6:36 PM

      Absolutely, Barbie! What a great challenge we face. Prayer is the ultimate answer for us as individuals and as a nation! Blessings, friend!

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