This is a follow up to my post on political correctness and respect.
So often I hear people use the phrase, “actions speak louder than words,” and while harmful actions can be more dangerous than harmful words, there are consequences for our speech. Using derogatory language continually oppresses people groups, and spreads stereotypes.
Saying things like, “you’re so gay,” subliminally teaches young LGBTQ+ people that their identity is” wrong” or “shameful.” While saying something along those lines may be in jest and is often not meant to be harmful, those words have consequences. The consequence in this case, is teaching those our queer youth that their identity is a joke or something to be ashamed of.
Our President-Elect Donald Trump is often backed by his supporters when he says outlandish and harmful things with comments like, “Trump isn’t actually gonna do that,” and “anyone would make big promises to get elected.” To some extent he doesn’t have to do all these crazy things he promises to hurt people; these words are already causing harm. Saying you’re going to make all Muslims register like Hitler did with Jews during the Holocaust is without a doubt harmful. It spread stereotypes that Muslim people are terrorists, and should be criminalized due to their faith. Also people who are easily influenced by others, can be “brainwashed” into believing this kind of hateful rhetoric – and it creates a society in which bigots think it’s okay to be bigots. It also sends a clear message to American Muslims that there is a large portion of the American population who doesn’t care about their well being, and that is beyond harmful in and of itself.
The words you choose impact those around you, far more than you will ever be able to see. Bullying someone or saying hateful things can be the last straw that drives them suicide, or self harm. Using over generalized statements about a people group can cause those who belong to a particular group to feel negatively about things they cannot change. Every thought you have doesn’t need to be voiced- especially when you know those things can be harmful to someone else.
Even if you say something you didn’t think was offensive, if another person is genuinely hurt by your words, you don’t get to decided that they’re in the wrong. There are no “wrong” emotions and people are allowed to be hurt by you. People may not always remember what you say, or do, but they will remember how you made them feel.
I can recall many times that someone made me feel small or unwanted when I was younger. I now have a generally indifferent attitude, so other peoples opinions of me don’t hit that deep. Having that kind of attitude is definitely a defense mechanism, but hey it works for me.
Think before you speak. It’s really that simple. Be conscious of the effect you have on others around you. I believe everyone should put love and positivity into the world, even when they are receiving hate. Getting revenge only makes us stoop to the levels of those we condemn.
Lots of Love,