This article is being reposted to share some of my earlier works and to give people a moment to reflect about the ways we are letting the public discourse be reduced to insults.
It’s the darnedest thing! The more I observe people, the more I understand this one thing. When people lash out and try to break others with their brokenness, they are really calling other what they are. Some people stay projecting their issues in ways that Samsung would drool over. The harder task being to fix oneself, too many revert to the most childish insults in order to make themselves feel better by trying to diminish others. But this is a fool’s errand; though ad hominem attacks and petty antics might feel good for the moment, in time the same tongue that is used to demolish others will destroy the tongue owner.
We live in an age of rank pettiness; this zeitgeist almost demands a public discourse where we burn each other with fiery rhetoric. Look no further than our clown president as proof that we live in the era of toddlers. The more time passes, the more people get petulant as they use words that were once reserved for elementary students. Sophomoric demeanor is the new virtue as people justify hatred by telling themselves that they are just giving just desserts to trolls who deserve it. Everyone claims to be a victim responding back but no one admits that they are the trolls. Trolling has become the new norm as words are used to hurt and reduce others in order to puff up our egos. Click To Tweet
I’m not preaching here, I too once was part of this foolish enterprise. There was a time I would size up anyone who dares to come at me sideways and send them back with their pride decimated. The same gift that I have to connect with people on an emotional level I used in the past to verbally pulverize anyone who had the temerity to shine at my expense. I actually used to revel in putting trolls in their place; I childishly proclaimed that I would give people the “Desta treatment” as I made an example of one person in particular who had the audacity to insult me and my family in a public forum. In my mind I was doing the right thing; if people came at me with a matchstick, I returned back verbal bazookas in order to educate trolls not to be hateful.
But fighting hate with hate is like fucking in the name of virginity. This is a take on a George Carlin joke but it could not be any more true if the Dali Lama said it. It is the height of idiocy to revert to the immaturity of others in order to teach them a lesson. I would say that I was throwing my pearls before swine, but in reality maybe it was me seeking swine before the pearls this world offers. I chose to go ham instead of giving the treasure of grace to others who were only doing what they did because they were broken internally. To this day, this is what I struggle with the most: as jovial and convivial as I am with people, my kindness gets inverted and I see red the minute I see others trying to diminish me.
But this too is brokenness; I should not give that much power to people who don’t have any significance in my life. Who cares if some fool things he is better than me or if others think I am stupid. People have a right to be ignorant but that does not mean I should give allowance for the myopia of others to bleed my happiness. One of these days I will tell my full story when God gives me enough wisdom and the words to properly convey my two year journey. You see, as much as the malice of others led to my exodus, it was equally my need to get the last word that paved the way for struggle to darken my doorsteps.
Be careful the words that you choose is the advice I am imparting on you as well as myself. In time, there is a price to be paid for using our tongues as a weapon. Whether we are the offenders or the responding party matters little, it is best to stow away malicious words and encounter enmity with a big smile and an even greater grace. To do the opposite is to invite hate into our hearts; given enough time, the hatred we spew outward will eventually consume us internally. Forgiving is for ourselves as much as it is for others; holding on to anger and spite destroys happiness and eventually leads all who partake in a venture of vengeance bitter and all alone.
To this day it never fails; every time I post an article on social media, there is always one person who says something like “put your tinfoil on” or “did you escape from the hospital” as these people think they are Imhotep reincarnated by choosing to make fun of people who have mental illness. But here is a universal rule, people obtuse enough to insult others with allusions to mental health are always talking about themselves. Each time I go to the profile of people who make such comments, I shake my head as these people have pictures that conveys some deep level of disturbance and arrested development. They were only saying what they were saying and choosing the words subconsciously that spoke of their own anguish.
We live in a political and social climate where spewing hatred and antipathy is accepted as a norm. We have a president who goes on Twitter and throws tirades befitting a toddler and political leaders and pundits on all sides who follow in the same footsteps. In each instance, everyone claims they are just responding and points the finger outward. Adults are lacking, we are led by a bunch of infants and then we wonder why the world is rotating on fire. Instead of pointing fingers and saying “not me”, how about we lead by being graceful in the face of those who are hateful.
Next time someone comes at you with hateful words and tries to ruin your day with their rancor, just remember they are only attacking you because they are broken themselves. Be forbearing and as much as possible and be kind to people who choose hatred instead of love or opt for bitterness instead of happiness. When you sink to the level of those who choose animus and pejoratives, you are making their day. The best revenge is to be kind to those who are full of odium. But let me not pious, I myself have a long way to go on this road of forgiveness. Just be more observant next time, like really focus on the insults people choose to attack others, and this one overriding thing will dawn upon you—they are calling you what they are. #WhatTheyAre
When the sun tries to outshine the moon, regardless of the outcome, the sun profits none::
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Check out the Ghion Cast below where I discuss the issues of self-projection and overcoming the pettiness of others as I cite my own experiences to highlight how we are at once givers and receivers of ad hominems.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.
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