“The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words.” English Oxford Living Dictionary
Wow! Almost 200K words! That’s a lot! One would think that with all those words we would understand each other better, but we don’t. One might also think that words wouldn’t be able to hurt someone. I mean they are just words right? They’re not like guns, knives or swords. Those have bullets or sharp edges that pierce our skin or other organs and can make us bleed.
Words can’t exactly pierce someone’s skin. However, they can sneak into our heads, creating negative self talk that can be just as lethal. Some words can puncture a large, gaping hole in our hearts too. So how is it that words hurt us sometimes worse than other weapons that can pierce our skin and organs?
Imagine me saying any of the following to you. “You’re dumb, stupid, ugly and a loser. You’re a racist, a sexist, a misogynist, and a homophobe. You’re a Republican, a Democrat, a socialist, a liberal, a conservative, a communist, a nationalist, a nazi, a fascist, a right/left wing extremist. You talk/dress funny.” How do those words make you feel? Hurt? Angry? How could I say those things about you? I don’t even know you. Simple I don’t have to know you. You believe/say “this” about “that”. You do “that” because of “this”.
We throw words around like this all day, every day without thinking about how the other person feels. We do this at work, at home, in school, in the grocery store, and especially on social media. To make matters worse, we lash out at the person who said those things or we take it out on the next person we see whether it’s a stranger, a friend or a family member. All this does is keeps the cycle of anger and hatred going.
Ask yourself this question. Do you like being angry all the time? I don’t know about you, but I sure know I don’t.
When we throw these kind of words around we are also practicing something called identity politics. Identity politics is contemporary shorthand for a group’s assertion that it is a meaningful group; that it differs significantly from other groups and its members share a history of injustice and grievance. It’s a way of always reacting to some type of racism or inclusivity through division.
Now, imagine I say these words to you. “You’re smart, funny, beautiful, kind, and caring. You’re a darling, a sweetheart, an angel, a peach or a doll. I love the work you do, the things you say, and the beliefs you have” Those words make you feel pretty good don’t they? Why don’t we start using these words and others like this? Instead of tearing each other down, why don’t we begin to build others up for a change?
I have a challenge for everyone reading this, especially if you’re someone who throws around negative words all day. Starting today, I challenge you to say something nice to someone, or lots of someone’s. Watch that person’s reaction. See how it makes you feel. I bet it will make you feel as good as it would if someone said those things to you. Go ahead. Give it a try.
Thought for the day: Perhaps this quote says it best, “If you proposed to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?” ~Buddha
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