Submitted by Rev. Dr. Don Longbottom, Conference Minister
It happened in the New Zealand parliament when a younger member responded with “OK Boomer” to an older member heckling her speech. It was an amazing and deft put down that has since caught fire on the internet. The phrase will be with us, I suspect, for decades or more. While I appreciate and at times participate in non-violent verbal jousting, the retort concerns me.
More than I can ever remember we Americans are a people divided. There is increasing talk concerning the possibility of violence between people of divergent ideology. All in all…it is a difficult time in the life of our country made more ugly by the manner in which we communicate with one another. Words have power and once released, they have an impact. Why?
Language defines reality. If, for example, the only acceptable pronoun for God is “He” then some kind of divine preference is inevitably ascribed to the male gender. When we utilize a pejorative name to another regarding appearance, viewpoint, sexual orientation or age among others, we make of them something less than was God’s intention. Such is not political correctness. It is rather the dehumanizing of another piece of God’s creation.
The Bible teaches us that one should not judge unless one is willing to be measured by the same ruler one is using to measure others. I do not believe the point to be that one must never judge. The truth is we all make judgments about people every day. However, we are held accountable for such judgments and are thus required to apply the measuring tape of our judgments to ourselves.
The story is told of a person at a campaign party who was heard to say he would never vote for Jimmy Carter because he was a southerner. Another fellow worker from the same party responded, “That makes you a bigot.” If we believe that one’s accent, or color, or sexual orientation or even religious affiliation defines who they are…that is bigotry.
A new year is upon us, and of all things, it is a Presidential election year. The knives are already out and the warfare has already begun. My advice and my humble plea are that we who call ourselves Christian act and speak with integrity and authenticity. Jesus Christ, whom we profess to love and to follow, engaged in love with the pariahs of his time.
This is food for thought for a new year.