POINT OF VIEW: Lost in translation, today’s political climate

Everywhere we look, we see the word kindness. Billboards promote kindness, actors and actresses encourage kindness, some in the mainstream media preach kindness, and friends and colleagues expect us to be kind. We literally hear this word over and over, day in and day out. However, as we know, the more often that a word is used, the more likely it is to lose its intended meaning.

Sadly, some people have used the term kindness in so many different contexts that it has lost its intended meaning. Today, many people walk on eggshells because they do not know whether their conduct will be perceived as kind or “unkind.” This is especially true in light of the changing political climate.

The First Amendment gives people the right to speak freely, to share their thoughts and opinions, and to do so without fear of legal repercussions (generally speaking). However, some opine that this right has slowly been eroding. For example, if a conservative takes issue with same-sex marriage, and voices discontent in a respectful manner, he or she could be labeled as “unkind.” On the other hand, if a progressive voices strong opposition to the NRA, or promotes strict gun-control measures, he or she could face enormous backlash. Does the mere fact that someone voices disagreement with a particular idea/issue make them a bad person or “unkind?” The absurdity of this question does not even necessitate a response. Of course not!

The political climate today is causing people to be timid, less vocal and more cautious about what they say. It is not because they don’t want to say what’s on their mind. Rather, it is because they are unsure how their comments might be perceived. There is nothing wrong with disagreement, so long as it remains respectful. There is nothing wrong with having a difference of opinion relating to certain practices or ideas, so long as the differences are voiced in an intellectual and constructive manner. There is also nothing wrong with staying strong to one’s convictions, so long as this is done peacefully. However, there is something wrong when society has become so sensitive that it prevents the open exchange of ideas.

The world is changing. Despite this, people are still permitted to share their thoughts and opinions. These opinions should not dictate who is deemed to be “kind,” and/or “unkind.” If this becomes the norm, and we allow this to happen, aren’t we passing judgment, and isn’t this, also, “unkind”?


Editor’s note: Hakim is an attorney based in Boca Raton.

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