I used to know two brothers, around nine or ten. They lived near by and played in the group of friends my daughter was part of. And they fought. All the time.
One day I walked out to hear the smaller one with the quicker wit calling his brother names. I asked him if he was wanting cry.
"What do you mean?"
"Your brother is bigger, right?"
"When he gets mad, he hits you, Right?"
"And it hurts, and you cry, right?"
"Um, yeah, I guess?"
"So, why are you sitting there calling him names and making him mad?"
I was thinking about this earlier this week. I have been thinking about some of the name calling I have been seeing. No, I'm not talking about the current election stuff. I'm talking about people talking about the behavior of other people. I'm talking about labeling behaviors with cool words, sometimes new words, that are popular at the moment.
This is not going to be a popular opinion, but no matter how accurate some of these words are, if you go around using them on people you probably aren't going to get the result you want.
I'm trying to think of a way to give you an example, without calling anyone out. If you have been using some of these terms, I don't want you to hear this as criticism and shut down and get defensive. But look though your social media feed. Once you get past the current political stuff, what words are people throwing around that could be read as insulting?
So, some of the words have really been sticking out to me lately. And what I have been asking myself, is there a better way to address the issues without using words that seem to add to the anger?
At the most extreme end of this, is the idea of carrying my non-violent ideals through to my language. I believe the words we use matter; they move the story forward. It is really easy to just use words that are popular and amusing and catchy. But what I'm asking myself more and more lately, are these words that hurt or heal? Do these words lead towards peace or more anger and fighting? Do these words help the situation, or do they just make people dig into their positions?
I know, its so cool to be clever and have these trendy phrases to spit out there and be all witty and quick. And yeah, I'm just an old thinkful introvert that ponders things and sometimes writes stuff about my thoughty thoughts. It's ok, I get it. I'm not saying you do this, I'm saying I have been noticing it, and I want to not do this. I want to be careful of the power of my words, and thought it might be something other people might want to think about as well.
Or maybe you really do just like starting fights.