Snowflakes and Safe Spaces
Christmas Eve I went to church with my Mom because I'm a good son. Or try to be. Being a life long Episcopalian going to church isn't a big deal for me. But Mom goes a Nigerian Anglican church. Long story, but I'm obviously not comfortable there. And there's an even longer story about the head priest there that causes me to take everything he says with a grain of salt. Suffice to say, I'm listening closely to what is said, what isn't being said, and what's being implied.
He wasn't 2 minutes into his sermon when he mentioned snowflakes. And not actual snowflakes, but what snowflakes mean now. I'm paraphrasing, but something about Millennials with their over hyped up sense of self worth and their precious and fragile egos. So two minutes into the sermon and I'm already over it. To be honest, I think this was a throw away comment before he got to the main part of the sermon, but using that term in such a denigrating way didn't seem very Christ like. Certainly on Christmas Eve we should try to be welcoming, inclusive, and not speak down or about people who aren't like us. Right?
I'm late to the "Snowflake" and "Safe Spaces" culture war. I'm not a millennial and I don't even interact with them that much. So these terms seem strange to me. I know there's an argument against such politically correct terms like safe spaces or trigger warnings. Like anything, it can be taken to extremes that make it ridiculous. Everyone, including millennials, need to be able to handle honest and open discussions about the significant issues facing our country and society.
But lately these conversations have been more than honest and open. They've become ugly. A lot of these conversations have become combative and include terms that a lot of people find offensive. And not just offensive, but words that cause some fear in people.
I've heard the word faggot a lot. I've heard it casually used in public where people just assume everyone nearby is straight, or don't even care if the term is offensive. I've heard it used as a slur late a night from a car passing by and walked a little bit quicker to my home or car. It's a word that is used as a weapon. It really has no other purpose.
As we have these important conversations about our country and society, if you really want to convince the other person about your point of view, then we need to be more empathetic with that person. We need to listen and we need to be careful with the words we use to make our points. Using words that someone finds offensive will turn them off to whatever you are trying to say. And case in point, I have no idea what that Christmas Eve sermon was about.
Bottom line: If you can't make your point using words that don't offend people, then you need a better vocabulary.