Does he get it?
Who knows. But this address today by the Bishop of Newark does resonate strongly, considering the ruckus that's arisen in his diocese during the past week. Depending on where you're standing, you could read these words as an admonition to either side (or both). But it strikes me that he must have at least heard some of the protests, and might have had them on his mind when he wrote this:
But verbal violence is a different matter. If someone has done something to me, I think of what I can (and should) say about them. I don’t know if I have ever verbally trashed anyone, but I have filleted a few people over the years. I have done it because other people do it. I have done it because, for a moment or two, it made me feel good. Verbal violence has become a kind of cultural sport – and we play it because – in the short run anyway, putting someone down gives the illusion of lifting oneself up. If we sacrifice someone else, then we will be spared. One of the unwritten rules of this cultural sport seems to be that it is best played if the offending person is not around, but a lot of other people are. All of which creates another illusion -- the verbally assaulted person doesn’t hear what is said about them, and the speaker gets to let off a little steam and perhaps showcase some linguistic flourish. No harm, no foul.Anyway, I found it interesting. I don't know if this is a hint of things to come, or if he'll content himself with a gormless "Why can't we all just get along?" and let the whole thing slide. No doubt time will tell.
Yet no matter how we arrange or gerrymander these scenarios, they still involve violence. Fear and frustration bubble up in toxic ways – and while the direct or indirect verbal assaults don’t leave physical scars, they nonetheless create lasting wounds.