by Ken Rolheiser
Whiskey tango foxtrot and noblesse oblige 

A student was sent out of class for using the expression “shut the front door”. This perhaps makes us smile. Then there is the NCIS Episode entitled “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”. I must admit I missed the humour until I saw the title on a re-run. 

What is not so subtle and offends sensibility is the language used on social media. I am disturbed by the disenchantment with our political system of so many young people including students I taught in the 1970’s to 1990s. That sounds natural enough, but what makes me uncomfortable is that I taught them language skills and communication.

The use of vulgar, slang and obscene language is just a bad reflection on the user.
There is a responsibility inherent in the use of language, perhaps more so in the written than the spoken word. Effective communication demands a certain respect in level of usage and just wholesome language. 

Would you listen to or consider the ideas of one who addressed you in coarse, boorish and lewd language? You would readily dismiss such incivility as a bad waste of time and a dismal attempt at garnering respect. 
What strikes me about so many of our politically discontented social media friends; yes, I have them as friends; is that they are unaware of the responsibility that comes with privilege. I speak here more of the socio-economic background that propels them into middle and upper-class jobs and professions.
At the risk of sounding like a “snob”, there are elements of noblesse oblige at play here; namely, to act with generosity and nobility, and this applies to language, toward those who have not enjoyed the advantages that we have. 
To address the political disrespect we see on social media, let me use an illustration. I was not a John Diefenbaker fan when he was Prime Minister. I had little good to say about him until some time after his death. Then I gradually recognised his contributions to Canada in passing of the Canadian Bill of Rights, forerunner to the Charter of Rights, and in the appearance of woman and aboriginals in cabinet and senate, among many other contributions.

I was not an NDP supporter during the time of Tommy Douglas, but respect for his contributions to the fabric of our Canadian landscape, especially in health care, was easy to pick up. Douglas was a silver-tongued orator and his communication skills are worth emulating. Then there was Pierre Eliot Trudeau.

On campus at the time of Trudeau’s leadership selection, I was enamored of him and swept up by Trudeau mania. I did not agree with all the bills his government passed, but history will recognise his achievements including the Canada Flag, patriation of the constitution, his handling of the Quebec crisis, and, most important, the Charter of Rights. 

I realise that what I list as achievements by political figures might be listed as failures by their opponents. When we pause and ponder with cool heads and respectful rhetoric, we can begin to separate achievements from failures. 

 “I urge, then… prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

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