Watch Your Mouth: The Shame of Shaming

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti /

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti /

Technology has changed the way we receive news. Not only do we get updates and breaking news instantly, we also have the ability to comment on articles and share on social media.

Every day, we read disheartening news from all over the world, such as the situation in Crimea and the scandal of a senator in California. Even after exploring so many human rights issues, it is still beyond me that human beings are extremely capable of harming others to promote self interests.

Equally disheartening to me, though, are some of the people’s comments, directed to in this case, Putin and Leland Yee.

Don’t they deserve it?, you might ask. I agree, what they have done is not right. But if someone’s wrongdoing justifies us to verbally attack that person, how is it different from fighting violence with violence?

I admit that I am guilty of calling some people “crazy” (including Putin), among other things; in fact that is my natural reaction. But when we label others as “evil,” “crazy” or that “they deserve to rot in hell,” we are dehumanizing them. Hate creates more hate, and we are back to square one.  I do not think we solved anything.

Instead, we need to condemn their actions.  As King once said:

 …the attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who are caught in those forces. It is evil we are seeking to defeat, not the persons victimized by evil. Those of us who struggle against racial injustice must come to see that the basic tension is not between races. 

There is an interesting post on this topic of “hating the sin and not the sinner” on the Waging Nonviolence blog.

Along the same line, I have also seen people say things like, “Shame on you if you don’t support this cause” or “Shame on you if you are xx supporter.”

I get it, it is frustrating when we are passionate about a cause and our friends don’t seem to get it.  Or sometimes we meet people who have opposing views.  But nobody likes to be “shamed,” especially publicly (I mean on Facebook).  If you think you are helping your cause by calling out people who do not support it, I ask that you give it another thought. They are probably less likely to want to support you, if you keep calling them bad.

In the same speech as above, King said, “Nonviolent resistance does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding.”  In fact, the point is not to prove that we are right and they are wrong, but to inspire and enlist them to join the movement for change.

So next time when you want to comment on something, please watch what you say.  Do you sound like a hater?  Or would your friends be inspired to hear what you have to say?

King did not call his “white brothers” evil, nor did he curse at them.  In fact, had he done that, the history would have been different.  Showing respect to others, especially to those that we do not agree with, goes a long way.

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