Tag Archives: inclusive language

Intersectionality and Peacemaking: The Second Mile, Nonviolence And Inclusive Language

No political correctness

No political correctness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”- Matthew 5:41 NIV

Long ago, I blogged on the importance of inclusive language but I think over the years, I have changed somewhat. Inclusive language and its use is a matter of neighborly love, going out of our way to affirm the experience of others, even if this action is rejected. This is the risk that nonviolent practitioners must take. In a Right-Of-Center U.S. political context, political correctness is looked down upon, with an (undue) fear of the “PC POLICE” and government censorship.

Peace theologian John Howard Yoder in a collection of essays The War of the Lamb: The Ethics of Nonviolence and Peacemaking suggests a possible way forward,; referring to his Just War opponents, Yoder says:

“But even if they refuse to hear me, and to respect the restraints they are theoretically committed to, I owe it to their dignity as fellow humans, some of whom are fellow Christians, to address them in terms of their moral culture, not only mine. That readiness, to make oneself vulnerable to the language world of the other, as a part of the ecumenical conversational process, is itself a minority view. For many, the only honorable stance in ecumenical settings is a vigorous advocacy of the rightness of one’s own orthodoxy. For me, the opposite is imperative on grounds of practicality, ethics, and spirituality. My use of their language, taking its potential integrity more seriously than they do, is a form of the second-mile response that Jesus taught and lived. I am not driven by the integrity of their position, which is what needs to be proven and which I doubt, but by the integrity of my own position, which is not dependent on results to be valid.”

While Yoder was talking about primarily advocates of Just War theorists, secular and Christian alike in ecumenical settings, I think one can take this approach to its logical conclusion, and apply it to Peacemaking Christians who wish to engage a religiously and culturally pluralistic society. The second-mile approach to cultural politics relies gives dignity to our interlocutors, and it also requires a pentecostal brand of Christianity that rejects monolingualism: an intercultural, multilingual Christianity where we are required not only to know our own stories well, but others’ stories as well.

What some may refer to as “being politically correct,” others refer to as being culturally intelligent. Language matters, and as co-creators with the Triune God, our words have the power to create and to destroy. As such, knowing our own internalized biases, whether it be white supremacy, misogyny, ableism or classism and guarding against them should be part of nonviolent ethics. The praxis of peacemaking requires not only the languages of restorative justice and confrontation, but reconciliation and meekness as well.

Link to Youtube: PC Police skit

A Lesson From Grad School: Building Your Own Lexicon

In grad school as a Master of Theology student, I was taught in one class to keep a journal handy for when you start making your own lexicon. Now, as much as I hate neologisms since many of them bring me #FACEPALMS, the English language does not have a word to express every feeling or event or action. That’s why it’s always changing (and another good reason why I don’t believe in English-onlyism).

So, here are a few terms I am working on:

Black-Collar Crime– Crimes involving clergymen and religious leaders. The difference is that these are a violations of the law, as well as the trust that people expect socially from those who “wear the collar.” I also hope to expand on this definition, so we don’t just see these as fodder for gossip columns, so that we start taking ethics in the pulpit seriously.

Infame– Like its counterpart fame, only being famous for the wrong reasons, like reality television or “christians” like Doug Wilson of Christianity Today.

Corporate Junta– I am still working on this one, but it is the abrasive politics of control corporations and other local economic entities (local businesses and trades historical favored by a particular state, oil for example) whereby the economic security of the very few is placed above all else (much like in military juntas).

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A Case Of the Mondays

English: Carl Crawford between innings in an A...

One of my favorite quotes from the movie Office Space is, “Looks like someone has a case of the Mondays!”

Welp, apparently in the North Eastern part of the United States, there’s a new racial slur , are you ready? Mondays. Yup, that’s right, Mondays, as I have always suspected are racist! So, remember, whenever you quote Office Space, do not say it around, you know, people who look like me. Thank you, Urban Dictionary.com

Turns out a police officer has been fired for saying “I hate Mondays” when referring to Carl Crawford, a baseball player and outfielder for the BoSox. Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella terminated John Perrault. In Perrault’s defense, he said he was using the words to refer to ““Crawford for being a bad player, not because he was a black man.”

PAUSE! Wait a second, what does being a Monday have to do with being a bad baseball player? I am a life-long baseball and there is not folklore that I know of where players are curse on Mondays (the second day of the week). I mean, unless you are a member of the Chicago Cubs. then you are cursed everyday. So no, um, this is not a valid excuse. Perrault coulda said, I hate Mondays because it’s the more boring day of the week, and my minor league team never wins. But noooooooooooooooooo. He meant it because of the way Crawford plays. Give me a break. In this case, Monday was used as a racist slur.

You’re welcome. Class dismissed.

For more, go to the Washington Post: Massachusetts Mayor fires Police Officer using racial slur

Edit; UPDATED: This video was shared by a friend on Twitter; I guess the Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t Like Mondays” is now racist, huh?:

 

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