Violence and Language

As the parent of young children, I often find myself stopping quarrels between sisters.  Sometimes these quarrels get physical and require separation.

Often times, however, squabbles between my two older children are fought with words.  I find it baffling where this vocabulary of fighting comes from—my spouse and I do not call each other names, nor do we use negative language with our children.   Yet name calling happens more often than I care to admit.

We live in a culture of violence.  From almost daily shootings, to violent video games, to the realities of war, acts of physical violence are commonplace.

But it is our vocabulary of violence that begets such physical acts.  As we try to teach our children, name calling is wrong.  Words hurt. Bullying happens often and the impact of violent words can (and are) felt for years to come.

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I grew up hearing, “sticks and stones may hurt your bones but words will never hurt you”.  I disagree emphatically.  Psychological violence, and the effects of bullying, causes harm– the consequences of which can stick around for a lifetime.

It is time to watch our language, not just around our children, but for the sake of humanity.  When our politicians name call, we need to call them out.  When celebrities ‘throw shade’, we should resist the temptation to glamorize it.  When hurtful things are said on social media, we need not repeat them.

The art of polite deliberation seems to be lost.  If we want to create a truly non-violent society, we need to begin with our language.  Being part of a more perfect union depends on it.


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