The brilliant Maya Angelou said:
“Words are things. You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives and all that ignorance. Don’t do that. Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally in to you.”
I've always liked the idea of saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Unfortunately, it seems that sentiment has lately come to mean say whatever you want and let the chips fall where they may! One of my elementary school teachers use to admonish the class by saying "Don't be ugly. There's no ugliness in this classroom." At first I was confused. My parents taught me to be kind, but my nine-year-old brain and brief life experience had difficulty understanding how 'ugly' was about something beyond physical appearance. It didn't take my young classmates and me long to grasp the powerful admonishment our teacher offered. We learned that we were powerful as our words could unleash what is revolting, hideous, reprehensible, offensive, vile, vicious, repugnant, and spiteful. With our adorable beribboned pigtails, freshly washed faces, and exemplary penmanship, we could be ugly.
It's important to say what you mean and not have to backpedal time and time again with "that's not what I really meant". Say what you mean the first time. And, of course, you should mean what you say but that doesn't give you the green light to be a bully. This isn't about being politically correct. This is about being civilized, respectful, compassionate, and reasonable human beings. You can be strong without using words as weapons to harm people. You can articulate your disagreement, dissatisfaction, or even disdain without name-calling. I refuse to believe that in order to build oneself up you must cut others down. When I watch politicians (ok, basically one politician of late) revert to name-calling and ugliness I just want to ask them one question: Do you kiss your grandchildren with that mouth? Indeed, what are our children learning from the ugliness they are witnessing all around them?
I will admit that from time to time I've fallen into the trap of being ugly; cutting people with my words. But I agree with Maya Angelou that words are things, and I don't want that ugly to get into my rugs and into my clothes, and into me. I recognize that I have a choice. We all have a choice when we open our mouths to speak and when we sit at the keyboard to write. Consider your options and choose not to be ugly, no matter how ugly things are around you. There's no room for any more ugliness in this world. We can choose to be civilized, respectful, compassionate, and reasonable human beings. And we can choose to teach our children accordingly just as my beloved teacher did.
Say what you mean and mean what you say but please don't act like a #%*k! Don't act like a jerk - what did you think I meant by #%*k?!
I had hoped to post once a week, and did for a short time. Unfortunately, my doctorate research and other obligations have taken priority over the blog. BUT, I will return soon! Some postings may be articles I've written for publication, messages I've delivered in congregational settings, or excerpts from papers written in my doctoral classes.