Now you know why I’m here writing a blog called Sticks and Stones.
The truth is, I dream of a world where words like retard, cripple, cunt, nigger, kyke, homo, queer, gook, dyke, etc., no longer exist for people like Ann Coulter to use as bullying weapons.
There is an argument to be made that those words don’t really mean anything unless people feel hurt or anger about them. In other words, the words are just words and have no power until people attach negative connotations. I do agree with that but only to a certain extent. If you have ever been on the receiving end of those words repeatedly hitting you like bullets, one of two things will happen. You will either become tough to the point of not feeling anything anymore, or you will become so debilitated by the abuse that you never recover. That’s where suicides due to abuse and bullying happen. You cannot deny that it’s a real problem in the world, especially among young people.
In order to correct the problem of verbal bullying, it has to start with the adults setting the examples for the children. Like it or not, children are exposed to the media every day and it is evryone’s responsibility to teach them compassion. Children learn faster by watching the example of their elders than they do being told rules and ordered to follow them. A child growing up in an abusive environment is much more likely to grow up to be abusive and follow that example. These are facts.
When I was a child, I was bullied in school for multiple reasons. I was in a wheelchair, I wore glasses, I was shy and I was a bookworm. Added to that, the fact that I was a child medium got around as well. To suggest that I was bullied is an understatement. I didn’t really know any other way to live, so being bullied meant that I became a bully for a short time as well. There was a boy who was even less popular than I was named Omar. He was from a very conservative family and I think they were either Indian or some type if Middle Eastern. He was a classic geek and a momma’s boy as well. These were things he was raised to be and had no conception that he wasn’t cool until we started teasing him. Every day for a few years, we called him names and made fun of him in countless ways. Now, as a grown woman, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about that boy a little bit and wish I could take back my part in it. I was called crippled and lots of other things, so I took it out on him. Of course I didn’t know I was taking my own bullying out on him at the time. I was too young to understand.
That is exactly why children need to be taught by example. The cycle isn’t going to break unless we change the way we speak to each other and show our children how to be compassionate.
So while we do have freedom of speech in this country and people have the right to express themselves in any manner that they choose, is it really okay? Is it okay to spew out words that have caused scores of people to hate themselves to the point of wanting to kill themselves? No. There are more intelligent ways to express disagreements than spewing hatful words at each other that accomplish nothing more than proving who can hurt who the most. Really think about it – what does name calling accomplish? If we expect our children to grow up to be intelligent and compassionate, then why are we not living up to our own expectations? Articulation and language has continued to devolve over the years in America to the point where we sound uneducated more than we have in prior generations. Only conscious decisions to favor compassion and articulate discussion over verbal bashing and insults will provide good examples for the children we don’t want growing up to be bullies.
Someone like Ann Coulter is very smart in the way that she knows exactly what she’s doing with her bullying language. It gets her headlines. It puts her on Fox News. However, she’s a perfect example of how furthering yourself sets a terrible example for those in generations beneath her. Just posting this blog gives people like her attention but I had to do it in order to make my point.
The next time you feel the urge to call someone a bullying name, thing about two things. One, think about the times you were called names and hurt by abusive language. Do you really want to perpetuate the cycle? Two, ask yourself if you’re really furthering your argument by using abusive language. I’m willing to bet that it doesn’t do a thing to help your argument but just makes you look tougher. We all need to work every day to become better people and compassion is one of the most important traits to develop. Not conditional compassion. Real compassion.