Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Not Only Sticks and Stones But Words Hurt

"Children will be children." It was true in our day and will be so in the future. A teacher, writing in our Diocesan Bulletin, expressed his concern for the way the children use foul language today. He feels they have no thought of the harm they are doing, to themselves as well as to others.

This is not only true when they are speaking to others but when alone and overcome with emotion. There is no thought that what they are doing is wrong. Their conversation starts and finishes with foul language. When talking to children, one realizes very quickly that the inclination is there to use this kind of language. Why did they pick up the habit? Their language often reflects family language.

The following week the writer, a teacher, also noted that not only children but young people are in the habit of using abusive language among themselves. This is not only when they have ill feelings towards another, it has become an accepted way of communicating; he was surprised to see how much they enjoyed "trash talking"--what some of the younger generation are calling it.

Often in daily life we tend to use this language when faced with an unfair situation and emotions take over. Venting feelings is a relief--to us--but it does damage to others. Most young people, it seems, have accepted and even enjoy this way of dealing with one another and see it as a natural and "cool" way of relating.

What is sometimes forgotten, and not only by the younger generation, is that the language that we use shows our character, our attainments, our cultural level. But perhaps more important, as the writer notes, the way we speak is going to determine how we act. He feels that the older generation has to set a better example in their own speech. And to help accomplish this, he urges that society should take more of an interest in esthetics, including what is often neglected in this study--language as a means of expressing the beauty in life. It will have a great deal to do with the society we will leave for those who come after us.

Language will always be important for it comes from us and ultimately teaches us who we think we are. It is said that we convey more of this self by our non-verbal communication than by the verbal, words giving only a partial expression of the non-verbal. As children, people of my generation, often heard: "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." Obviously, a defense reaction; we know that words, even when used lightly or in jest, can desensitize us. When they become ingrained as an accepted way of communicating, they not only harm others and ourselves, but society itself will tend to take on the same characteristics and become callous and harsh.

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