I have to admit that I am a bit naive when it comes to things like news correspondents gathering for purposes like unity and solidarity, which is supposedly what happened last weekend at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner in our nation's capitol. I just don't know that much about this particular event. From the news reports on this gathering, it sounded pretty divisive. After reading some of it, it sounded just mean-spirited. I get the freedom of speech thing. I do understand that people need to speak out against topics that are wrong and need correcting. And, further, I wouldn't pretend to stand against anyone who is doing this in an atmosphere of unity and solidarity.
But one listen to the news bite and one look at an article tells me that something else is happening here. I can appreciate humor and even light sarcasm. From my understanding about Michelle Wolf's routine at that dinner was that her attempts at humor went beyond those things. Humor is designed to be amusing - provoking laughter in those who are there to hear it. I think that humor is supposed to help make others feel joy and be able to laugh at the things that life throws at us. I'm not convinced that Wolf's humor accomplished that - I listened to some of her monologue. I never once thought any of it was humorous. At all.
Just to be fair, I think this incident is more symptomatic of the culture we are now living in. We live in a society that allows for free speech - no problem with that. But our nation's leadership (including the president) have taken that right and expanded upon it to say anything they want to say without any repercussions. It's not just one person, it's become the cultural norm. We have the means to communicate instantly with anyone in the world through our cell phones, our Facebook and Twitter accounts. We can and do have the right to say whatever we desire.
But just because we have that right, doesn't mean we have to exercise it. We have to realize that we have a responsibility to one another when we do decide to exercise it. Personally, I don't need to know what our leaders are thinking every single moment of every single day. I much rather prefer to see the results of what our leaders are thinking by their actions. Let your actions speak louder than your words. If the reverse is the norm, then it's my belief that there is a lot of noise that is out there that muddies up the waters and feeds into the discontent in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Here's how Paul puts it: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29) If we think that this cultural speech thing is a recent occurrence, we are not paying attention. It is part of the human condition. Our humanity has always had this as a dynamic. What is different in this day and age is that these comments come to us much more quickly in a much more raw and uncut state. There is no filter, nor any moral compass that guides a tongue that is not building others up but tries to accomplish the opposite.
My hope is that all persons will remember to think before they speak. Words are powerful. Let's use them in a manner that raises the bar instead of lowering it. Before you speak... think.