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Congressman Emanuel Cleaver

Representing the 5th District of MISSOURI

Civil Words

May 9, 2016
Civility Message

Dear Friends,

It was preaching time and the host pastor was about to stand before the congregation to introduce me. I leaned over to him and said, “Look, don’t make a long introduction because the hour is growing late and I don’t want to delay the service.” My friend, the pastor, said, “OK, fine.” He spoke quickly, “Brothers and sisters, our guest preacher, Emanuel Cleaver, does not want a long introduction so let me just say this, I look at him as a model preacher, please receive him.”

When I returned to my hotel, I took out my iPad and looked up the word model. Cambridge said, “Something built up to show how something much larger would look.” I then realized that my host had just called me a pee wee preacher in front of hundreds of people who applauded.

Words mean something. They are seductive and can be fraught with danger. We too often throw words around in the political world without thinking deeply about consequences.

For example, instead of saying Candidate A criticized Candidate B for his vote on Pig Latin, we say, Candidate A attacked Candidate B. Words can bless or words can blast. Words can hurt or words can heal. Maybe it would be advantageous for Members of the House to remember that civil words can create endless echoes.

Warmest Regards,

Cleaver
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Emanuel Cleaver, II
Member of Congress