"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me."
I remember chanting that when I was young. I don't remember when I learned it or who taught it to me. But I suspect it was one of those life lessons what my Grandmother lovingly taught me to help cope with the uglier side of life.
Recently, I heard a comment from someone that made me question this little mantra. I won't go into too many details. I truly don't think this person meant any harm. I'm not even sure she realized what she said. I don't for a minute think she reads my blog ... but you never know. And I'd rather air on the side of caution.
The comment was made about a child, thrown out casually during a normal exchange with other children. And I thought it was the kind of comment that could be hurtful. Sadly, I didn't say anything. I just let it happen, only shaking my head after I left the scene.
But as I was walking, shaking my head, it dawned on me. I heard the "sticks and stones" chant. And I realized that it really isn't the sticks and stones that do the most damage in life. How many of us can say we've been hurt by sticks and stones? How many of us can say that it has been objects coming at us that have hurt us?
Now, I don't mean to say there isn't violence in the word and that people aren't physically harmed. I know this is true. It happens too often and it's horrifying. But even in these cases, aren't there often words involved too?
My point is that words DO hurt. And they leave a bruise that no one can see. Sadly, they can sometimes hurt more and last longer than the outward bruises that come with the "sticks and stones".
I guess what I'm saying is that we need to remember that what we say can, and often does, affect people. They're not just words. They carry power and meaning with them.
Yes, only we have the power to let others affect us with their words. But we also have the power to choose what we say. To uplift and inspire rather than tear down and destroy.
I think part of why I'm writing this post is because I had a choice. I knew something was said that probably hurt a child. Unintentional though it may have been, still it was said. I stood there with the choice to try and counteract those words. Perhaps, even the power to combat them. Yet, I remained silent.
If you take something from this post, take this: sticks and stones and words can hurt. And we have control over all of them.