Our soon-to-be former president has been called many things during the time he held public office. I am sure there were as many names as there were days in the White House. He learned early on that name calling begets name-calling, and it certainly lowered the bar on professional behavior.
I thought in the early months, four years ago, that name calling had reached a new low when he was labeled a blabbermouth. It was truly disrespectful. Unfortunately for him, it just might stick.
When someone doesn’t know when to keep quiet, there is potential for giving away the end of a movie or telling a long-held family secret. There is also potential for using profanity to label others; other people, other religions and races, other countries or worse. We were looking at the “worst” for a long time and it wasn’t pretty.
What began as seemingly harmless, however indiscreet, tweets turned into a fiasco. Unprecedented blabbing, gossiping and misguided commentary had the whole world watching and waiting for the next blurt. People around the world were holding their breath. Then the tweets, retweets and totally inappropriate remarks seemed to appear without too much breath holding.
Other nations were as gentle and civilized as they could be to start. They feared that although America was still a great nation and basically healthy, it might possibly have been having a nervous breakdown. Giving us some time and space was the kind thing to do. Some countries saw it as an act of rebellion, voting in a rambunctious child who would act out and give credence to the childish impulses and uncouth behaviors. Some were likening our government to a circus with far more than one carload of clowns.
Perhaps circus is a worn-out metaphor so let’s go with carnival and the only ride left was the bumper cars and the electrical circuit had gone haywire. There was a magician, but his bait and switch act only fooled some of the people, some of the time.
We quickly grew tired of the name calling. Saying it was like middle-schoolers insulting middle-schoolers. The discord and the inconsistencies were like nothing we had ever seem or experienced in the adult world. Soon no one was amused. By the time the sanest among us thought of using a mute button, so much had been said, so much argued about and lied about, the whole issue was, well, moot.
Early on the lie-ohmmeter needed to be engaged. Fact checking and putting a muzzle on the sitting president would have been prudent. Early on the other branches of government needed to step up and do their jobs. But little was done early on, and the higher the Tower of Babel got, the less anyone understood each other.
I am pretty sure that God didn’t do this act of confounding the language and its usage this time around. I am convinced those who built this tower confounded the communications themselves. Raising oneself up by creating chaos, confusion, and fueling animosity is beyond comprehensible. A quick course on the power of language and its ability to hurt and destroy is in order. Another course on critical thinking for all bystanders would be a good beginning as well.
Lastly, we need to forgive and move forward. Blabbermouths will come and go, disturbing the peace and spreading the misinformation. It is all part of the human condition. The damage left in the wake is often long-lasting.
Maybe we have all learned a bit, maybe we will be more careful with our own words and actions. Maybe, just maybe, we can come together and find common ground when it comes to problem solving and action. We could even decide to be civil, and require truth and facts to back it up.
Blabbermouth is not a kind title to have for eternity. Loved ones could have bought duct tape as an act of charity, and limited device time as a protection for his legacy. Neither were done, and the mute button came far too late in the game. At last, game over.
Kay Stellpflug is an educator and trainer in interpersonal and professional communications. She works and lives in Beaver Dam and can be reached at email@example.com.