Sticks, Stones, & Hateful Words
Who doesn’t know the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I’ve never had a broken bone, but I exaggerate not, as a human being, a person who cares about the world my children will grow up in, I have been hurt over and over by how people talk to one another. But I remember a time when I did just that. As an eleven year old in Los Angeles I would call my best friend a stupid Mexican because he insisted he was from Puerto Rico (and he actually was). Because I had never heard of Puerto Rico, I was convinced he must have been confused or wrong. Either way that made him stupid in my eyes. I just knew I couldn’t have been wrong. And how many of us actually can admit to our selves that we are the one who don’t know? How many of us have actually acknowledged our own stupidity, or more correctly, ignorance. Was I the only one who couldn’t do this at age 11?
There is a philosophical concept framed by Charles Pierce called the method of tenacity. It is a method that Pierce claims people use to lessen doubt, to assist people in not feeling guilty about not having something to believe in. I was so immersed in the use of the method of tenacity. My head was buried in the sand like an ostrich, I was so afraid to encounter a provocative new thought that I’d almost start sweating if someone said they had an idea. So to counteract this anxiety I would tenaciously express my beliefs, as if emphatically stating my position would be irresistible in terms of swaying anyone’s public opinion that was different from mine.
A classmate of mine from my elementary and middle school days, whom my friends and I considered unattractive (as if any of us were destined to win beauty contests), would often catch an endless amount of insults from us. Why did we feel as if we could dog her out? You tell me! What was it that made some of us feel as if we were better than others, so better that we could misuse and abuse them whenever we wanted to? How many of us have done something down right nasty to someone else when we were kids that we would love to take back? Here’s a question: What would you say to that kid if you had some time to talk with him/her?
Somebody please explain to me why people are so comfortable calling others’ names, but are ready to fight, perhaps even kill when they are called something they don’t like. Some words are sticks and stones. They break your bones, and really, really, hurt.