As children, we were sometimes subjected to teasing and unwanted cruelty. We tried to console ourselves with a short poem:
Sticks and stones may break my bones,
But words can never hurt me.
Sadly, this did not help as it was a fallacy. Words can and do hurt.
The recent headlines of someone being accused of rape comes to mind. Even if the person is found not guilty of the charge, he will bear the stigma of the charge the rest of his life. There will always be doubters who are willing to believe the worst of the accused.
It’s well to remember that what you think of yourself is far more important than what others think of you.
Words are a secret, concealed weapon we carry for which we need no permit.
Human nature being what it is, who doesn’t like to gossip at times? Alice Roosevelt Longworth, known for her tart tongue, was reported to have a pillow on her divan with the needlepoint message, “If you can’t say anything nice about someone, come sit by me.”
It saddens me when I hear about a child bullied with words as well as physical abuse is driven – driven to suicide, despite a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt – “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” A nice thought but hard to live up to.
Character assassination can be deadly as a gun too when it lowers a person’s self-esteem and self-worth.
In the comic strip Peanuts by Charles Shultz, poor Charlie Brown is maligned and berated in several panels by all he meets. In the last panel, Lucy Van Pelt, his nemesis, remarks, “I hardly ever see Charlie Brown smile.”
We are drawn to people who make us feel good about ourselves. It’s not what we see in others but what they make us see in ourselves that uplifts our spirits.
A casual, flippant remark can cut deeply some times and we may not be aware how we have hurt someone. We may apologize but once the words are out there, we can’t erase them. They are like a kite caught in the branches of a tree.
Before speaking, keep in mind, “We are the masters of words never spoken and slaves of the ones we have uttered.”