Sticks & Stones ..

I was told something the other day which made me feel very uncomfortable, initially I felt furious, and now, still furious, but also incredibly sad.

Someone had said the ‘r word’ and they had said it in a way they thought was funny.  It’s something which sadly is still all too common in this day and age.

Derogatory comments about other people; people you might think you know, but don’t actually know too well eg outside the workplace, and those you instantly judge and make assumptions of even though you don’t know them at all are WRONG.  People that may have challenges going on in their lives that they may not have shared.  Why should they though, after all everyone’s business is their own.  Yet, when moaning about someone and then sarcastically you say ‘Erm yes I think they’re definitely a bit special needs’ is WRONG.  Then to use the next word, which I hate even writing let alone hearing someone say .. ‘retard’. The R word.  It’s WRONG. It’s disrespectful. And tell me this; at what point does it constitute or justify being used in a way to make sarcastic fun of someone?
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When you say those things you are insulting so many people and families who have had to struggle and had to overcome many challenges and hurdles to just even ‘be themselves’. It’s widely known what people mean, who they are talking about, who / what they are insinuating when they say the R word.  And when you make fun of someone saying someone is a bit special needs, WHY would you say that? You’re not saying it in a nice context, so imagine all those wonderful people that actually fall into that category, imagine how they would feel.  Think about the people in the vicinity who can hear you say those things, they might have family or friends that would fall into those categories. Imagine if someone said the R word about your Mum, sister, brother, auntie, cousin, Nan, friend and so on …. imagine how it would feel to you; now imagine if you said that word to someone you were talking to in passing – is it really the right thing to do?  NO.  A cruel sharp tongue is not a good quality to have, trust me.  Some of you misguidedly appear to think it’s cool ?! it’s so NOT cool, so not cool in any way shape or form.

There are always going to be people in this World like this. I have no idea why they’d think it’s cool to talk like that.  It’s disgusting, rude, derogatory and hate. No other way to put it.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I love and embrace peoples differences .. and what is a difference anyway ?! Different to what ?! Who says what’s right or wrong, or what society keeps calling ‘normal’ ? I don’t like to use that word either as whether we have a ‘difference’ or not, what actually IS ‘normal’ ?!

Most people will choose to stay quiet and not say anything, it’s a touchy emotive subject. But I believe we all have something to give, something to contribute – give people a chance. Don’t right them off too quickly.  I know alot of this stems from my own feelings of being bullied every single day throughout the whole of my secondary school life, those feelings although you may think they go …. I will be honest, they absolutely do not.  I can remember everything like it happened a second ago.  It’s almost 40 years ago, yet it’s clear in my mind. It still makes me feel sad to think about it.  And I remember my Mums face when I finally plucked up courage to tell her. She tried to hide her sadness well from me, she tried to liften my spirits, and I remember her warrior princess mode immediately sprung into action. When you call someone names, it is actually bullying – one of the most hurtful and damaging forms of bullying and is extremely painful.  As I said, I still have those memories as fresh as anything in my mind, those negative messages are literally engrained in your mind always, and impact on your self worth.  (My own Bullying experience is definitely a blog for another time – I am extremely passionate about this subject).

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People say things in the heat of the moment, flippantly, or they say later they don’t literally mean it, but let’s be honest here.  When you’re calling someone a name or using the R word about them, I guarantee it will hurt someone.  If your intention isn’t to hurt anyone, then DON’T do it.  Why for the sake of whatever your reasons are, do that? If you’ve never been on the receiving end of derogatory, bullying, name calling, or a mean comment and phrase, then I’m glad, I’m pleased for you as you wouldn’t want to be. If you were though, however blasé you may think you’d be; that you’d brush it off, that you wouldn’t mind, trust me, at some point in your life these things will bother you…. or someone else that cares about you.

Everyone is different, and everyone knows I always say we all have our own pocket of greatness.  There is beauty everywhere, have you really listened or looked at a person and noticed how amazing they are. How amazing human life is.  Just look closer. That guy over there who’s quiet, isn’t being rude, he isn’t being unsociable .. he might just not feel comfortable talking in groups, he might have something on his mind, he might be hanging on to life by the tips of his finger nails, he may be hard of hearing, deaf, he may be non verbal, how would you know either way?  So why would you dream of making a derogatory comment ?

I know a guy who’s extremely quiet, I’ve been told people say things about him, not to him or me, but behind his back. I see their faces, I see their expressions. Yet.. I know why he is quiet, why he hasn’t got time in his mind to chit chat – he has confided in me that his wife and he have adult children that were both brain damaged at birth.  As a family they are making good lives for themselves with each others continued support and guidance. They’ve had to deal with looks, comments and literally become thick skinned as they know they are being talked about, and looked at.  That could be any of us. There is another lady I know who struggles with her own anxieties and insecurities, and has spoken to me at length about it, but you wouldn’t know as she appears to you as the life and soul of the party. She doesn’t want anyone else to know about her struggles, so she puts on a brave face.

We’ve all heard this saying, but personally I don’t think it’s true; ‘Stick and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me’ I remember being told to say that to the bullies when they hurt me. As much as this was meant to help, it didn’t really, it made them say more nasty stuff back to me as they thought I was being ‘too clever’.  Words definitely can harm, they really can. Trust me, I know.  Those people that used to call me names at secondary school may think it was just back then as kids messing about, but no, it wasn’t to me, and those names still resonate with me, they often have a lasting affect.
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The point is don’t judge people, don’t ever assume you know everything about everyone.  Just cos you work with someone, share a flat with someone, or even if it’s your cousin for example, it doesn’t mean you know them inside and out. We should all be more mindful, be nice it costs nothing.  And be thoughtful, be understanding.  The moment that the ‘R word’, name calling or your categorising of people is used, you have disrespected a huge part of the Worlds community.  A huge amount of talented people who have contributed so much more than you think to society as a whole. That someone one day could be someone in your family. Someone you would wish to protect and stand by with all of your being.
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My Son has additional needs, being diagnosed with a few conditions, with autism being one of them.  On a recent family trip, when building a bear he was asked to choose a word on a shape to put inside the bear before it was sealed.  A word that was important to him, a quality he would like his bear to have.  He chose ‘KINDNESS’ – to me that says everything.  Above all the words on shapes available in the shop to chose from, he chose kindness, need I say more? – checkout his picture above.

So please THINK about your words. Remember, it costs absolutely nothing to be nice. It’s soon anti bullying week – don’t be one of those who inadvertently becomes a bully. Be nice, be kind, be more US and inclusive. You will be surprised if you open up your heart to try listen and understand people, at what you will actually find.

Big love all xx

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