Of all the sadnesses I have about the current state of our great nation, a key one is that our incoming President uses language to destroy not build, to hurt not heal, to divide not unite. Tom Friedman gives examples of Donald Trump’s use of language and suggests alternatives.
I once taught English to 7th grade boys. The most immature and insecure of those boys used language as Donald Trump does. They insulted others and insisted on their own greatness. I worked hard to help my students to be aware of their language and, more importantly, to think more broadly and deeply. My goal was to help them to be less self-absorbed and to be open to new ways of seeing the world as they gained confidence in themselves as part of that larger world. I have similar wishes for Donald Trump. I hope that he ceases to see himself as the center of his own world and, instead, sees himself as part of a larger world in which he has tremendous responsibilities.
Language matters. Language both expresses our existing thoughts and creates our new thoughts. We need a President who thinks more broadly and deeply and speaks and writes out of that deeper, broader thinking. We need a President who uses language to dialogue with others and explore diverse ideas in order to create new thinking for himself. Only by using language in both of those ways can he call us, the American people, to envision a country in which we can all take pride.