Words and Their Aftermath

A few years ago, someone I was once close to made a comment that shook me to my core. You see, I had another friend who has a clenched hand, and he was helping me accomplish a few tasks to close out my day. Others may see him as disabled, but he can do anything he sets his mind to doing. He offered to take a trash can down the street so that customers couldn’t use that can for anything else. Storage facilities often have people who abuse the trash at their locations. The other friend was on the phone with me, and when I told her that he was helping me by taking the can, her exact words were, “You got the retard to take it out!!!!” I was livid. First, I’m not okay with anyone using the word “Retard.” It’s hurtful, and it shows a lack of empathy and total ignorance. Second, the world has become so politically correct that she needs to be very careful with how she throws language out at others she doesn’t respect. Her disrespect reminded me that there are many words that we have hurled towards us regularly that cause political firestorms.

People use words as weapons when they are angry or sad. Racial divisions are prevalent because various races use words and phrases that need eradicating from our vocabulary. Disagreements and heat of the moment exchanges are more common in today’s world than ever. What’s important is we all learn to think about the words before they exit our mouths.

I’ve been guilty of using words I shouldn’t. Sometimes I felt wrong about them, and other times I was ready to pop the bubbly. These last few years, I’ve paid attention to what I’ve said and learned there were times I should have kept my mouth shut. I’ve watched as others love to throw words at others and don’t practice what they preach. I don’t know of many people who never have a terrible thing to say about anyone. If you know anyone like that, hang onto them because they are few and far between.

As I’ve grown these last few months, I’ve begun to recognize how much our words matter. When my dad was fighting cancer and didn’t know it, Dad would talk fast when he preached. Everyone thought that he had some problem, and he did. No one knew what was causing him to speak at such a rapid pace. I remember sitting in a pew behind a little boy who said, “why is he talking so fast? He needs to slow down.” He only asked what everyone else was thinking, but at that moment, my heart dropped for my father. Dad couldn’t help what was happening as he spoke.

Later, after my father’s diagnosis, I asked dad what it was like in his head. I knew better than to ask because Dad couldn’t talk at this point, but I paraphrased and asked him questions like, “Did his mind feel like a puzzle with the pieces scattered?” His answer was a resounding “yes.”

Several friends of mine and I love to talk smack on occasion. We get accused of having a dirty mind, and while I probably shouldn’t acknowledge that I do, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t because my mind goes to the gutter at times. Darla and I often have conversations that would make many sailors blush. Maybe it’s the fact that we feel alive. I’m not so prudish that specific topics are taboo, but there is a time and place for everything. Sometimes we adhered to those times and places, and other times we didn’t. Maybe the fact that I’m a Preacher’s Kid has something to do with why I’m the way I am.

Someone recently said to me that saying “less is more.” I guess it depends on the situation. Some people can’t beat around the bush and not say what you are thinking. They can be dense and unresponsive to words. Other times we say things we wish we could take back. I don’t regret the times I went off on people when they deserved it. I regret not having the courage to say what needed to be said to the people I wanted to talk to because of fear. So, here’s what I hope you take from today’s blog. Awareness of what we say is the first step to conveying a more robust communication system. Talking to each other in anger usually incites more anger, hurt, and betrayal. If you are the type to want to make fun of others for impairment or what you think is funny, remember what it would be like to have the shoe on the other foot. Sometimes if we take a moment to think about what comes out of our mouths ahead of time, we might teach ourselves and others how to be better people in the long run. Have a great day, everyone.

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