Words. What was it that Albus Dumbledore said about words?
“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.”
Words, and how we string them together, are my passion. Written and verbal communication has intrigued me ever since I can remember. The transfer of ideas. The expression of emotions. The ability to connect with fellow human beings. Words do all of that.
I’ve crafted a professional life around words, whether writing advertising copy or letters asking for donations for the Ronald McDonald House or now, as a hopeful author-to-be. But, I bring this up today for another reason.
There is some serious ugliness in this world right now. And, I have been asking myself how I can help since the last presidential election and now again after the verdict came back last Friday in the Philandro Castile shooting – a tragic situation that happened in my own backyard.
You see, I’m not really the political activist or community organizer kind. But, there has to be something each of us can do to start making this country a more hospitable and fair place to live – including me. And, then it came to me.
If words really do have the power to inflict injury and to heal it, and I believe they do, then this is my entre into the arena. I will be mindful of the words I use and how I use them. I will understand their impact and their meaning – to all groups of people. To be clear I am not proposing “political correctness” for I feel that corrodes real discussion, real debate, on the issues facing us all. What I’m advocating for is awareness. Here’s an example:
I have a friend, who every time the local public radio station talks about “gay marriage” calls in and says, respectfully, “I didn’t get gay married, I got married.”
Or, saying something like, “The girl behind the counter will help you.” She is not a girl she is a woman. We would never say, “The boy back there will ring you up.”
And, probably the most powerful word to start the healing process is one to use, rather than one to avoid, and that word is “hello.” When you walk down the sidewalk and see someone who doesn’t look like you, for whatever reason, instead of dropping your eyes to your shoes and walking by in silence, what if instead, you looked at them, acknowledged them and said, “Hello?”
What if . . .
At first this may seem to be a small way to take a stance, but I believe, deep in my heart, it is a very real way to start healing the divide.
Will you join me?