Taking Back the Power of Words to Hurt

I saw an interview today on CNN’s website where Marc Lamont Hill were saying that we should allow a discussion of the “N-word”.  I find that attitude one of the most open minded I have heard in a long time.  Let me explain why.

I have realized that words do not hurt people; it is people’s reactions to words that cause them harm.  We, as citizens of our society, have been programmed to be reactive to words in such a way that causes us harm.  Once we become aware of this we can take responsibility for OUR behavior (our reaction) and re-train ourselves to not react with such hurtful behavior.

Yet, as long as we keep lying to ourselves (and one another) that it was the word that hurt us and it was the person who said the word who is responsible for our suffering, we will stay trapped in a cycle of abuse.

Words like nigger, faggot, failure, dike, sinner and others still have the power to move people emotionally in a way that they would rather not be moved.  The CONSCIOUS person recognizes this and takes responsibility for their part in this and learns to relax and stop reacting.

But what is the advantage of keeping people ignorant of the truth that will set them free of being offended by words?  Well, one is if you were an owner of slaves in the US south 200 years ago you would want your slaves to be moved emotionally by words so that you could use that to control their behavior.  It is easier to get them to hurt themselves with words then to have to hit them with a whip. Or if you were a racist today would you not want to be able to get someone of a different race to HURT THEMSELVES when you used certain words?  Or what about the parent that wants to intimidate their child with words like “bad”; without the child’s fear of that word you would lose some control over them.

These are only a few of the many examples of benefits of keeping intimidated by words.  What I am saying here is that there are many advantages to some people in society to keep people hurting when stimulated by words.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was all about Blessedness.  One of the things he said was, “Blessed be those who do not take offense at me.”  Yet, many religious people of his time did take offense at him, which is why they killed him.  Jesus also said, “Take cheer, for I have overcome the world” which indicates to me that he was showing that you could not offend Jesus with your words (or actions).  And finally, he said, “I have come to bear witness to the truth.”  To me, this means that he was bearing witness to the fact that religious people have been conditioned to abuse themselves emotionally when stimulated by words (as a means of maintaining control of them).  Yet, if you followed Jesus’ way (not the Christian way) you would overcome the world and its ability to push your buttons and hence control or manipulate you emotionally just using words.

So it is my opinion and experience that by bring this discussion out into the open and talking about it, and putting responsibility where it is due, we can show people that it is possible to get free from ever being hurt by words again.

A lot of the pain some kids are experiencing today from ‘bullying’ is a product of their conditioned reactions to words.  If we teach children the old school yard rhyme, “Stick and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me,” we could end a lot of the bullying that now happens.

Of course, if we do this, those who benefit from people’s habitual emotional self-abusive behaviors will be up in arms about it, just like they were when Jesus was teaching this 2,000 years ago.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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Jim

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