Sticks and Stones may break my bones
But your words can totally destroy me
After I finished my blog article about the power of words, imagine my surprise at picking up the Detroit Free Press (8/25/13) and finding an article written by Kristen Jordan Shamus about...you guessed it...the power of words. This article was not about what we tell ourselves; it was about what we say to others, and the damage it causes.
The article dealt mainly with two recent incidents: 1) hate mail received by the grandmother of Max Begley, a 13-year-old Canadian boy with autism, which read in part "Do the right thing and move or euthanize him!!!"; and 2) a tweet from Jeff Rutledge against Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis calling her "retard Barbie".
When people resort to hurtful, hateful words aimed at cutting down others, it shows their sick need to boost their own egos by smashing some one else's. In today's world, that's called "bullying", and it seems to be pretty prevalent. Occasionally I read comments by readers to on-line news sites, and they all seem to quickly degenerate into derogatory rants by those cloaked in the safety of anonymity. I often wonder how anxious these same people would be to share their hateful opinions if their real names and real pictures were printed next to their hateful remarks.
I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Shamus when she writes "It starts at home. We must teach our children not to name-call, not to delight in others' failures, to build one another up, not tear each other down. We must model that behavior in every way. We cannot allow them to treat classmates that way, nor can we write off such behavior as teasing among siblings."
We all have choices about what we will say and do. Please choose wisely.
* It's never "just an innocent prank" when anyone says or does something hurtful to another.
* Be tolerant of opinions that do not match your own. The freedom to form one's own opinion and
voice it without fear is one of the beautiful things about living in the U.S.
* For your children's sake, if you can't model love for those different from you, model tolerance.
* When someone relates something offensive about another person, call them on it. Tell them you
find it offensive and you don't want to hear it.
It is never all right to denigrate others. If you do, it says little about the other person but it screams volumes about you.