|Good Morning Everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “Think for yourself”
Our Bible verse for today: “A gentle answer turns away anger; but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” Proverbs 15:1 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Change the tone”
Many of us today are just plain weary of all the anger, bitterness, and hatefulness that has come to characterize our national dialogue on many issues, including politics, race, and numerous social issues. Much of it is driven by out-of-control emotions; some of it is born of the mistaken assumption that the louder we get the more convincing we are (but anger drives people away instead of drawing them in); but a lot of the hot rhetoric is also just outright meanness.
In his book “Thou Shalt Not Be A Jerk” Eugene Cho tells the story of Ann Coulter and Frank Stephens. Ann Coulter is a far right political and social commentator who is known for her harsh and abrasive style. Her speech is often belligerent, intentionally provocative, and sometimes mean and insulting. For a while she had the unkind habit of publicly labeling her opponents and critics as being “retarded”. Frank Stephens is a polite and soft-spoken young man with Down syndrome. Frank decided it was time to take issue with Coulter’s continued use of the R-word and so he posted a response to her on the Special Olympics website. Here’s what he wrote:
“Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow. So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult? I’m a 30 year-old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow. I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you. In fact, it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.”
Frank’s response to Ann Coulter went viral. He was interviewed on numerous television programs and he testified before a Congressional committee regarding people with disabilities. It was immediately obvious that Frank is intelligent and well-informed, and he is also unfailingly polite and pleasant to everyone. He is engaging and confident and interesting. Frank quickly gained a lot of fans and changed a lot of hearts. But sadly, Ann Coulter never apologized or responded in anyway.
One thing many people discovered through that story was that they liked Frank Stephens and his ways a lot more than they liked Ann Coulter and her ways, and many hearts were changed for the better.
Solomon was right when he wrote in Proverbs 15:1 that a kind word is more effective than an angry one, and that more people will be persuaded with reasoned and respectful dialogue than with angry and insulting rants.
I encourage you to be part of the solution in our country. Help to change the tone. Be calm, kind, and respectful, rather than angry, mean, or insulting.
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