Sticks, Stones, and Words
When I was young, like many I learned the little maxim “sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
It was a phrase tossed around to try and convince ourselves (and others) that the mean, horrible, and hurtful things that people said about you didn’t, well, hurt.
But of course we knew better. Even back then when we were little. We knew that regardless of how many times we told ourselves that words would never hurt us, words hurt.
Words do hurt. In fact, words are more painful than sticks or stones because the hurt and damage they cause can last a lifetime.
Think back ten years to the last time you sprained an ankle while running; hit a finger after missing a nail; stubbed your toe; or taken a fall and broken something?
Remember? It healed, right?
Now think back ten years to the last time someone you loved said something mean to you; to the time when Mom or Dad or brother or sister made some crude, careless remark; to the time when your boss or colleague cut you down; the last time you were publicly rejected or humiliated.
Still hurts, doesn’t it?
Words are doubly dangerous because they hurt you then AND they hurt you now.
But wait, there’s more.
Words are man’s most dangerous weapon because they can spread. They are the world oldest pandemic. They can create fear. They can foster hate. They can incite action. Every mob, every pogrom, every instance of mass hysteria starts with words.
I am in the business of words. I have a healthy respect for them. I respect them because I know that in the right hands they can change people’s minds and motivate people to do things they otherwise wouldn’t do.
So those in the business of words, take note:
- Call a person a Nazi
- Say that what someone is doing is evil
- Claim that certain people are a threat to faith and family
- Compare those in office to Fascists, despots and mass murders
- Assert that a person, party, or policy must be stopped at all costs
These words will eventually have their effect. At some point, someone, will listen and will be motivated to act.
If not in Tuscon, somewhere else.
And when they do, know that you did your part to help.