When We Devalue Others, We Devalue Ourselves


I recently came across this blog post from Brené Brown, adapted from a chapter of her Braving the Wilderness, and I was reminded how much of our current political discourse is dominated by such extremes in language.

Throughout the course of my life, just up to a few years ago, I recall there being political disagreements and differing points of view, but things were never as intense as they are now. We may have disagreed with someone, but we certainly didn’t hate them.

And just so younger readers know, there was a time when husbands and wives, business partners, and best friends voted for different candidates and supported different political parties. Nobody thought this a big deal back then. Yet, this very idea seems strange in 2018.
Anyone who watches cable news or is active on social media is bound to be aware of the sort of language that is used to describe those people we disagree with. More often than not, it seems that those on the opposing side have transformed from our fellow citizens with whom we simply disagree with, to sworn enemies who threaten our way of life.

In the blog post mentioned above, Ms. Brown writes:

Our disagreements should never lead us to forgetting the humanity of others.

Dehumanizing and holding people accountable are mutually exclusive. Humiliation and dehumanizing are not accountability or social justice tools, they’re emotional off-loading at best, emotional self-indulgence at worst. And if our faith asks us to find the face of God in everyone we meet, that should include the politicians, media, and strangers on Twitter with whom we most violently disagree. When we desecrate their divinity, we desecrate our own, and we betray our humanity.

Sometimes it is important for us to take a step back and carefully consider how we speak about others and how the language we use can push all us of towards the extreme. Our rhetoric—when extreme and dehumanizing—actual hurts us more than those we aim it at.
If our political disagreements force us to lose our humanity, how things turn out politically will be of little consequence. Therefore, we should all make the effort to remain dignified in the face of hatred and never lose sight of the fact that those we disagree with—no matter how strongly—are blood and flesh human beings, just like ourselves.
We end up losing our humanity when we forget this.

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