War of Words Undercuts Civility, Respect

We have to take those people in even if they are criminals. And we have hardened criminals coming in. You think those people are perfect? They’re not perfect. We have some bad people coming in, and by law, we have to take them in and then we have to — it’s called ‘catch and release,’ you ever hear this one?” – “45” this week on the migrant caravan heading north from Mexico.

“Don’t be a baby.” – That same individual when asked by a reporter what proof he had that there were criminals in the caravan.

“Don’t you know white people go first? We’re going to build a wall and you’re going to have to go back to Mexico anyway.” – Metro Detroit white junior high student to fellow Hispanic student as both approached a hallway water fountain (relayed to me this week by the latter’s mother).

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” – The Statue of Liberty

Mindless. Shocking. Beautiful. I’m in the business of messaging. And I ask you, what message are we sending our young people and the world today? How can we continue to stoop so low in this country that we cannot treat other people with dignity and decorum – especially our poor, our persecuted, our desperate? How have we strayed so far from celebrating diversity and inclusion and eschewing stereotypes and racism? What has become of civility? What has become of us? And while we cannot save the world, we should not demean it nor each other.

I am a firm believer that there is always a way to communicate with mutual respect. There is simply no excuse not to. None. Come to think of it, the old “sticks and stones” rhyme didn’t totally get it right. Words can and do hurt all of us (including impressionable young minds) in more ways than many realize. Verbal jabs can cut like a knife. Time to once again choose our words and our actions more wisely. They can’t be taken back. And history will not forget.