Defining Our Terms

The world is broken… Situations are getting more and more complex by the second. There is a lot of gray. Controversy is everywhere.

Sometimes in these gray and complex situations, anger can develop.

But anger is neither good nor bad… It just is.

Anger has no rightness or wrongness because it is an emotion and not an action. Actions can have moral implications. Emotions do not. You are not a bad person for being angry.

And anger is almost always a very natural response to an injustice.

Lately I’ve been angry.

And yes I’ve been angry about injustice that I witness.

But having a dialogue in anger is not typically fruitful.

But sometimes I try anyways. And I don’t say what I want, or I do say what I want but we are just somehow never on the same page, or there’s always the possibility that everyone is offended because anger is present.

Either way… One thing is almost sure to happen: misunderstanding

I am sorry for all the times this anger has led to misunderstanding (especially because my anger is almost never at a person I’m talking to, but a bigger injustice in the world…and I acknowledge that the direction of my anger can easily get blurred and for this I am truly sorry)

And then I remember an easy way to avoid all of this.

I learned in my logic class in college that you can never have a logical argument until you define your terms.

When you are caught up emotionally, this step is almost always skipped.

We forget to define the terms.

This is important because if the terms are defined differently by two people you actually can’t have a discussion because you won’t be talking about the same things.

Right now there are some huge discrepancies in how people are defining the terms. Which fuels more anger.

Sometimes people even have to debate what the terms mean before they can actually discuss an issue…

I can only have a fruitful conversation with someone who agrees with me on these basic definitions. Until we come to an agreement on the definitions of the words we’re using we can’t discuss an “issue” properly. This is logic.

These are my terms I’m viewing the world through right now that have come up in conversation lately.

Insult: typically an isolated incident where actions or words offend someone. This is not usually damaging to someone’s overall well-being, safety, or general life satisfaction

Discrimination: harsh treatment of someone based on an identity or characteristic (often out of the person’s control, ex. Race) that is repeatedly happening (meaning it is on a more serious level than an insult). This treatment is also so harsh that it creates an environment of unequal opportunity and it compromises a person’s well-being

Persecution: acts or words that are intended to make another person suffer or fear for their life (ex. Christians in other countries cannot practice religion or they may be killed=persecution. However, Christians in the US are probably not actually being persecuted… They are more on the level of being insulted)

Victim: someone who has experienced an injustice that they never asked for (victim of rape, victim of domestic violence, victim of racism)
**it is typically very dangerous to be in a place where we are victim blaming ex. “She was asking to be raped by her outfit”- in no way does any appearance allow someone to be violated, in no way does standing up for yourself warrant death threats (referencing the controversy at Mizzou)

These happen to be the terms I’m functioning on right now. Sometimes a debate about the terms is more telling and can completely alter the debate about the bigger issues: racism, social injustice, abortion, human life, human rights, choice, etc.

What are your terms?

**Discussions about the world’s issues is so so important, but at the end of the day, authentic love is what truly makes changes. Keep that in mind.


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