Friday, August 23, 2019

Words matter!

I have memories from childhood where my mom would go over the old adage, ‘sticks and stones can break your bones, but words will never hurt you.’ She would remind me that words do matter and ultimately can do real harm, like a broken bone or even worse. I know that today there are too many that live in isolation without any friends where a mean word will push them to hurt themselves or even take their own life. Yet, the world around me, regardless of political or religious ideology, continues to allow hatred rhetoric to become the norm. Those that attempt to speak understanding and kindness are pushed aside as being naive and foolish about life.  

I would hope that I could have an intelligent, civil and beneficial conversation with anyone without having me getting upset or someone go off on me! I have been trained between college, grad school and more so life lessons that I should  choose my words wisely. Otherwise, I can either be perceived as being demeaning or patronizing a hopeful friend. Why is it the case today that too many, myself included, are more interested in our response to someone instead of actually being open to learn something new, different or even challenge my personal world view or maybe bursting my secure ‘bubble’? 

I should never be surprised to see a variety of responses to what I perceive as a good  post that should be beneficial to all, from my perspective, but not everyone else. I know that we live in a minefield of both political, social, educational and religious constructs. Too often I catch myself often trying to tread carefully the land-minds of race, religion and politics. I have been warned often by my wife to not go there with a relative, friend or new acquaintance. Why does it matter if  I push someone’s button about the world, our societal crisis, potential impending financial collapse or whether preseason games with the Cardinals matter? So what that the Raiders pummeled our hometown team. (Unless you’re the new head coach and number #1 Draft pick!) The proverb about iron sharpening iron has much merit! Yet, the truth is that seldom those of different world views are able to hear the other person, sadly. 

 I know that the words I choose deliberately might impact the people around me. Clearly being respectful, showing kindness and giving attention to those in authority matter. As I carouse through pictures from the Woodstock Day it reminds me of how in the past, I would be so quick to never trust anyone older than me, that didn’t have hip clothes or long hair. I can remember as a young Boy Scout, soon to be Eagle Scout, being railed on by my Scout Master for my late night rant of profanity. Yet, my wife and I at times chuckle at the shallowness of those we know that can’t express themselves without the ‘F bomb’ or GD term. Obvious question is why choose this path for self-expression? 

So, as I think of my grandsons being raised in this crazy world around them, I see two clear paths that their parents and other parents can pursue. Either they will be totally sheltered and live in a very protective bubble or be life-long learners who are equipped to assess, evaluate and learn from the circumstances around them and hopefully become influencers and game changers. Is it possible to allow your kids to grow up in a vacuum where you assume, they don’t need your advice or direction in life? Relativism at times, does seem to be the path of most until something evil happens to them and then are quick to cry out a moral foul. 

Words do matter and will make the difference between having a mediocre life, where you have the ‘whatever’ attitude or become a person who truly desires to grow and make a difference in your life and the lives of those around you. It saddens me, angers me, to see the platforms of social media be used to spread hatred and a divisive- destructive spirit. One of the great lessons my mom taught was to always strive to see the good in everyone and not always assume the worse. 

This doesn’t mean that you ignore blatant evil but learn to always attempt to seek the path of justice, mercy and understanding as best as possible. 

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