[I first posted these thoughts on Facebook yesterday. The footnote, indicated by an asterisk, is a helpful comment made in response by a friend who is an Adult Mental Health Consultant working in the NHS in the North East of England.]
If you call the President of the United States a ‘loathsome creature’ (and then claim that you were not implying that he is less than human, but merely employing a turn of phrase) or the First Lady ‘[sic] a Ape in heels’ (and then claim that this was not racism, but the personal opinion of one individual concerning another individual) you show yourself to have no understanding of the power words have (first and foremost, over those who use them).
But, quite unintentionally, you also land close to the truth. Because enmity lies at the heart of how every human being positions him- or herself in relation to every person they meet. The roots of enmity are shame (the root of enmity directed at the self, which may in turn result in our lashing out against others as displacement*) and fear (the root of enmity directed at the other). Whether you read Genesis 3 as literal or myth, this is the insight revealed to us there.
This is why the ministry of reconciliation is at the heart of the gospel, or good news. This transforming ministry of reconciliation flows from God, who invites us to join in. Us, who are enemies of God, of ourselves, of one another. It is enemies who need reconciliation. Unless we can admit to this, we cannot enter into it.
*I think envy of others is an important relation to shame - ie we measure ourselves as lesser in relation to a perceived other and rather than trying to emulate or follow, we would rather destroy (literally or with words) in order to lower the other and elevate the self. This of course produces more shame which needs to be sublimated, displaced or projected elsewhere. One can see this enacted in the recent political behaviours.