Words. We know them and use them. While some of us might have a better grasp on manipulating them, nearly all of us select language bites to express emotions or beliefs. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of words is:
1a : something that is said b plural (1) : talk, discourse
2a (1) : a speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning usually without being divisible into smaller units capable of independent use
Language and words are symbols. They point to things beyond themselves. They represent something (whatever it is we are attempting to convey). Again, the Merriam Webster dictionary states that to represent means:
1.to bring clearly before the mind : present <a book which represents the character of early America>
2: to serve as a sign or symbol of <the flag represents our country>
We, as humans, have the power to pick the words we want to utilize (we are kind of like super heroes with special powers). In the selection process, the words we choose either authenticate feelings and ideologies or mask them (in the latter, subverting those neutral words into falsehoods).
Today, how are we going to use words to represent what is real, true, authentic, right? How are we going to use our language powers for good and not evil? Most of us are aware of the damage and aftershocks that poorly chosen words affect. Again, I ask, how are we going to authenticate ourselves and build up others by using the gift of language to communicate empathy, kindness, and love towards others? What are we going to do to slam the door in the face of those words that harm others? That 3, 2, 1. . .detonate leaving behind a wake of destruction? We can do it (if our brains are functioning properly and we exhibit a fundamental capacity for language). The question is, will we represent?
Today was a bad day as far as bad days go. It wasn’t awful but it came pretty darn close. I have met some pompous donkeys before but never like the person I encountered this afternoon. I am conscious of the reality that many people I meet in my daily life are going through tough times. Even though I might be having an “off “day, my behavior towards others (when I’m in the grocery store, library or on campus) reflects a fundamental philosophy of mine, be kind anyway (or, at the very least, don’t displace my feelings on someone who doesn’t deserve it)!
I was rudely reminded of how crass and obnoxious some people are (when supposed to be acting professionally). I became the attempted target of an abusive person who tried to belittle me in order to keep “superior” helium from seeping out of his inflated ego. My immediate reaction was hurt (not a common response). Then, anger.
I spoke to three incredible women who all asserted that we don’t give our power over to individuals who trample on it. Maya Angelou says that “anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.” I’m going with this one. Like my amazing friends, she is one smart woman. If anyone knows about oppression, she does. If anyone could have hatred for people (like this man I met today), she could. But she doesn’t hang onto it.
I’m not the same person I was four years and eight months ago. Yes, it’s true, because of an absurd divorce and single motherhood, I’ve been bumped down rungs on the economic ladder. It’s correct that sometimes it’s a struggle to get through the day and I’m grateful when she closes her door. I acknowledge I am imperfect–sometimes too feisty, too passionate, too inquisitive or too intense.
Despite these characteristics, I am sure of some important truths:
- I am worthy of respect and dignity because I am human.
- I’m a woman. The term doesn’t translate to idiot.
- I never deserve to be called a “what.” I am a “who.”
I know the difference between right from wrong, lies from truth, nominalism from authenticity and abuse from love. So to the man who dropped nuclear bombs today hoping to witness destruction, epic FAIL.