Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Be Careful

Ann Coulter ‏@AnnCoulter on October 23
Obama: "Stage 3 Romneysia" - because cancer references are HILARIOUS. If he's "the smartest guy in the room" it must be one retarded room.

Ann Coulter ‏@AnnCoulter on October 22
I highly approve of Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.

This is not a “political” rant . . . I think folks need to keep that stuff to themselves much like they do their sex lives, bank accounts, and whether or not they are cheating on their income taxes--especially if the rant is to beat another into submission or to degrade them because they disagree.  Our society has been filled with a lot of political rants for quite some time thanks to this being an election year . . . and both sides are equally adept at it. It is true that there is a right to the freedom of speech, but somewhere along the line our society crossed the boundaries of decency, respect, and what Jesus called his followers to—loving one another.

Because I do not watch much television beyond my beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers playing football or volleyball, I really didn’t know who Ann Coulter was.  All I knew is that she sure was in the headlines this week for referring to the president of the United States as a “retard”.  So, I did what any half-way intelligent individual would do . . . I “googled” her.  What I learned was that she is an intelligent individual with a good education (University of Michigan and Cornell University), a lawyer (University of Michigan Law School), and a conservative and political commentator, author, and syndicated columnist.  Plus, she is obviously a beautiful woman . . . but her words betray her.  Twice in a 24-hour period she called the president a “retard”.  It was not funny . . . it was mean, hateful, and disrespectful no matter who she was referring to.  Apparently that is her style during this political season . . . check her out on Twitter (https://twitter.com/AnnCoulter).  Is this what the founding leaders of our nation meant by “freedom of speech”?

Again, this is not a “political” rant . . . this is a rant about using words to hurt and belittle others . . . this is about using degrading words to describe others because we disagree . . . this is about using the “R-word” that ranks right up there with using the “N-word” and “G-word” . . . this is about doing as Jesus called for his followers to do, love your neighbor as you love yourself.  It seems that there is not too much self-love evident during this election year.

I grew up with and still have two brothers with disabilities . . . the “R-word” was a constant taunt and put-down growing up.  I have two sons with disabilities . . . and, again, the “R-word” was quite familiar.  Anyone who knows me knows that I do not tolerate such language to describe others.  Way back in March I wrote a blog—The “WORD”—dealing with the Special Olympics campaign to “Spread the word to end the word.”  You can read that at http://www.bogw.blogspot.com/2012/03/word.html.  I haven’t changed my opinion.

I imagine that there are those out there who think that I am being too sensitive about the issue . . . that Ms. Coulter and others are just kidding around and using tactics to get attention, but the old children’s rhyme about “words not hurting” is a lie.  Words do hurt . . . often for a lifetime and beyond.  I guess we should be thankful that there are people out there like Ms. Coulter who remind us that words do hurt and effect people as individuals and groups.  It helps us to remember that it is necessary for us to become “conscious” of our “words” as we speak them and our “actions” live them.  Violence does not only come in the form of physical harm, but it also comes in the form of the words that we speak and the actions or inaction we take.  A bruise may heal, but a spiritual bruise never leaves.

It is only right that someone speaks out to say that a statement or action is unacceptable when it crosses the line.  It has nothing to do with who one is voting for, but how we treat one another.  As I said, both sides have done a lousy job at treating each other with respect or love.  Nothing will ever stop this decline unless we stop it . . . and stopping it begins with ourselves as individuals.  It begins within ourselves and then spreads outward to include others.  If it does not begin with ourselves how can we expect anyone else to change?

Is this the best we can do for those who follow us . . . the children?  Is this the legacy any of us wants to leave for the generations to come?  Stephen Sondheim wrote these “words” in his wonderful musical (my all-time favorite), Into the Woods:

Careful the things you say

Children will listen

Careful the things you do

Children will see and learn

Children may not obey, but children will listen

Children will look to you for which way to turn

To learn what to be

Careful before you say "Listen to me"

Let us be careful out there . . . people are listening!

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