The Way We Speak To One Another

The public is often appalled at the negative ads on TV during election campaigns, and once again much is being said in the news about all the trash talk flying over digital transmissions and into average voters’ living rooms, and cell phones, and tablets.

How odd, I think. Mitt Romney is going after President Obama, accusing him of all kinds of things. But apparently he doesn’t realize that something like 48 percent of voters still approve of what the President is doing.

Why, I wonder, can’t politicians wake up and realize that everyone they attack has fans who in turn may become defensive and much opposed to the one on the attack. Wouldn’t it be wiser to give the opponent the benefit of the doubt as another citizen who wants to do what’s best for the country, but who has a different vision for how to achieve that?

Seems to me, then, that people who are tepid about the President’s performance just might embrace this kinder, gentler approach that doesn’t tear down the man or besmirch the office, but that lays out a plan that will bring about different results.

But no. We live in the age of Jerry Springer.

Yet, how we talk to one another isn’t so different from how people talked to each other down through the centuries. Job’s friends prove this. Though they are often characterized as having bad theology, which they did, they also ended up getting into a sparring contest with Job, as if it was more important to win an argument with a man devastated by grief and loss than it was to let him talk out his problems.

In chapter 16 Job called them mockers, and apparently Bildad took offense. He responded in chapter 18, “Why are we regarded as beasts,/As stupid in your eyes?” But he wasn’t content to ask Job why. He himself went on the attack. Some of what he said doesn’t sound so bad — until you remember who is sitting across from him: a man who lost the bulk of his wealth, whose children had all been killed, who was covered with oozing sores, and was sitting in an ash heap.

Indeed, the light of the wicked goes out,
And the flame of his fire gives no light.
The light in his tent is darkened,
And his lamp goes out above him.
His vigorous stride is shortened,
And his own scheme brings him down.
For he is thrown into the net by his own feet,
And he steps on the webbing.
A snare seizes him by the heel,
And a trap snaps shut on him.
A noose for him is hidden in the ground,
And a trap for him on the path.
All around terrors frighten him,
And harry him at every step.
His strength is famished,
And calamity is ready at his side.
His skin is devoured by disease,
The firstborn of death devours his limbs.
He is torn from the security of his tent,
And they march him before the king of terrors.
There dwells in his tent nothing of his;
Brimstone is scattered on his habitation.

His roots are dried below,
And his branch is cut off above.
Memory of him perishes from the earth,
And he has no name abroad.
He is driven from light into darkness,
And chased from the inhabited world.
He has no offspring or posterity among his people,
Nor any survivor where he sojourned.

Those in the west are appalled at his fate,
And those in the east are seized with horror.
Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked,
And this is the place of him who does not know God.
[emphases mine]

Here’s Bildad’s speech in summary: So, Job, all the horrible things that have happened to you? That’s what happens to people who don’t know God. Guess what that means about your spiritual condition!

I’m sorry, but that was nothing short of mean!

Of course, the apostles weren’t far from this same way of thinking when they asked Jesus if they should call down fire on the Samaritans who didn’t welcome Him because he was headed toward Jerusalem (see Luke 9:52-54).

In contrast, this is what Paul said to the Romans:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Rom 12:14-15)

Jesus makes a radical difference in how we talk to one another — or should. I wonder how a Christian campaigning like a Christian would fare in today’s political climate.

I wonder if Tim Tebow would consider running for office. 😆

Published in: on January 18, 2012 at 6:27 pm  Comments (2)  
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  1. People seem to over estimate the power of the president. Those running for office, and the media, seem to take full advantage of that ignorance. Everything that is wrong with America is blamed on that elected man who only has 1/4th of the say-so in our government. Even though America was set up so we could never have a powerful dictator, we treat this person as if he had all the power of a dictator… when his power is more equal with that of The House, The Senate, and The Supreme Court. And although not intended by our founders to be ruling bodies of our government it seems today that Lobbying Special Interest Groups, and The Media are also now very powerful deciders of what happens in this country. The Media seems to already have its candidate selected for the coming elections, and those who control the information we receive have great influence. Maybe the president gets picked on because he is the only individual that has power equal to the other parts that are each made up of many people. He’s the easy scapegoat. And did we forget that the current big issues were already going wrong before the 2008 elections? These problems were inherited by the current administration, not created by them.

    Romney will put all the blame on the president for the current state of America… but if he becomes president and things don’t improve I wonder where he will point his finger then?

    You and I both know I don’t always speak with the love and respect a follower of Jesus should have towards others, but I try. It helps to look at the person- honestly look at them in the reality of their situation- and wonder what it would be like if I were in their place. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s hard to imagine someone seeing Job in the state he was in and giving him the tongue lashing he received from his “friends”.

    Thanks for sharing this perspective, Becky.


  2. Patrick, I agree that we put way more on the President than is his just desert. And yet, it seems like recent Presidents would like to live up to our expectations. I’m troubled by this executive order thing we have going now which allows the President to do what the Constitution never gave him the power to do — create law. He is to execute law — make sure what Congress passes actually gets done. Yes, he can present ideas and suggest a course of action to Congress, but as you point out, he is not a dictator.

    The crazy thing is, the President has taken on some of the making-law powers and the courts have taken on some of the making-law powers. Congress? What is it they do again? 😉

    Don’t get me started on lobbying. I think it’s the greatest corrupter of our government. I’d like to see a law passed that would prohibit any congressman from receiving “gifts” of any kind from private sources. The NCAA has that rule for student-athletes, but our government leaders can take all kinds of money and perks. Why is that?

    The Media actually is called something like the Fourth Estate or fourth branch of government. That’s not good news when it is so aggressive in pushing a particular agenda. Once it was looked upon as the objective, unbiased reporter of facts to keep the biased politicians in check. Now it’s almost become a shill for their chosen candidate. Well, not quite that extreme, but it’s moving in that direction. It amuses me to hear other network newsmen make snide comments about Fox’s “fair and balanced” approach, as if they think they are fair and balanced, and Fox clearly is not (since they disagree)!

    Well, clearly, I don’t think speaking with kindness means we aren’t to hold opinions. I have a lot of them! 😀 But, yes, Christians should be different in the way we speak, and perhaps why we speak. The Golden Rule is a good guide, certainly. Obviously old Bildad hadn’t heard it or didn’t believe it applied to him.

    Thanks, Patrick, for your always thoughtful comments.



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