“No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” (James 3:8-10; ESV)
If you know me very well, you know I can be kind of a talker. If you find me in the right mood, you’ll find me speculating endlessly about the deep truths of existence, analyzing literature or film, or just trying to be funny. Unfortunately, this often gets me into trouble. I often walk away from a conversation thinking, “Shoot, I hope I didn’t hurt that person’s feelings with that joke (that wasn’t even very funny).”
Humor is a wonderful thing. But it can also be dangerous, because humor in our society often comes at the expense of the dignity of other human beings. I don’t know if this has always been the case, or if it’s a 20th & 21st century development, but it definitely seems to have gotten worse with the advent of the media age. Whether on television, radio, or the internet, never have so many people had access to so many intimate details of the lives of people they have never met—and therefore feel no responsibility to treat as actual humans.
I fall into this trap all the time: I find myself making sweeping judgments or mean jokes about celebrities who I’ve never met—and even attempt to philosophically defend my right to do so. Occasionally, I notice that I’ve done this again, and I remember this video that I saw a few years ago:
Wow. I didn’t even know who Craig Ferguson was before I saw this, but this makes me want to be his friend. That is just pure class.
Can you imagine living in a world where every human being, regardless of his standing in society or what he has done was always treated with dignity?
I desperately long to live in such a world.
Help me, please: If you ever hear me trample on the dignity of another human being, call me out. And you, too, do your best to treat all humans, always, with dignity and respect.