Tom Purcell: Disgraceful discourse ours to correct

Published 2:22 pm Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Without grace, our public discourse will continue to suffer.

“Grace,” according to, has more than one meaning, but all of them are powerful.

Grace is “a pleasing or attractive quality,” as well as “favor or goodwill.”

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In a religious sense, grace is “a virtue or excellence of divine origin” – a gift from God to help us be more charitable and gracious toward our fellow man. It’s also a prayer of thanks recited before meals.

In a general sense, grace is “elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.”

And when we are most lucky, our beloved friends and family members grace us with their presence.

Grace is a beautiful and necessary component of everyday life. Without it, our world cannot function.

And grace is horribly lacking in our public discourse.

Too many political leaders, beginning with our president and including too many others holding high positions in the federal government, are being the polar opposite of graceful. lists some antonyms of grace. They include ugliness, animosity, enmity, harshness and disfavor.

Even Trump supporters have been appalled by the coarseness of some of his tweets and his recent words that resulted in some disgraceful followers storming the U.S. Capitol, which has sickened, saddened and appalled everyone.

But how are Trump’s political foes, who’ve told their supporters to get into peoples’ faces or disrupt their restaurant meals, or who used highly inflammatory words to gin up protesters, better?

When our alleged leaders are totally lacking any semblance of grace, where does that leave us?

In a world lacking in grace, citizens are at each other’s throats. They don’t care to understand ideas or points of view that challenge theirs. No, it’s easier to demonize and make caricatures of those who hold different ideas or political viewpoints – it’s easier to destroy opposing thought.

In a world lacking in grace, political leaders aren’t leaders at all. They’re followers. They seek power by feeding red meat to just enough followers to get them across the finish line on election day. They care only about the 51% who supported them – and turn a blind eye to the 49% who didn’t, further dividing our increasingly fractured country.

In a world lacking in grace, civility is lost. Neighbors turn on neighbors who put the wrong political signs in their front yards. Politics becomes all-consuming and never-ending. Anger becomes all-consuming and ever-increasing. Hatred rears its ugly head, with violence waiting in the wings, looking for any opportunity to erupt.

To save the future, we need to restore grace to our country, our political leaders and ourselves – and it begins with each and every one of us.

We need to open our hearts and minds to what is true and good – truth and goodness hold no political affiliations.
We need to see the best in our neighbors.

We need to understand why people think differently than we do – and we will likely discover that we mostly all desire similar beneficial outcomes, and differ primarily on how to achieve those outcomes.

I pray that God bestows much-needed grace upon us once again – because grace is what we need to restore order, trust and civility to public discourse.

Copyright 2021 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood,” a humorous memoir available at, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc.