I love the English language. These are some of my favorite words. When I say them, you know what I mean – they describe a person, a feeling, a situation. They evoke emotion.
I love the way words can flow off the tongue, resonating with emotions we are experiencing.
Words are powerful.
They can lift. Inspire. Wound. Scar. Heal.
So, doesn’t it make sense, as we recognize that power, to respect it…. to step back and consider the depth behind our words, rather than allowing our speech to fall into a lazy pattern including words that injure?
Two of the words I detest the most for their over-use, their poor stereotyping, the laziness they suggest as they spew from the mouths of people who utter them.
“They’re just words!” “I didn’t mean anything by them!” “I wasn’t talking about a person!”
But those words have power. And every time they tumble from your lips, you chip away at the respect people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities struggle to overcome every single day. Why? Because you couldn’t come up with something else to say.
I don’t have a personal stake in this in the same way my friend, Ellen does. Her phenomenal, loving, kindhearted son Max has cerebral palsy. He’s been given a bad name before. And she made this beautiful video as a gentle nudge. Let Max’s face be the one you see the next time you think about saying, tweeting, or texting the R word.
Today is Spread The Word To End The Word Day, part of an ongoing campaign against the r-word created by The Special Olympics. When Ellen posted this morning close to 250,000 people had signed a pledge against the word “retard.” Now, as I write, that number is over 262,000. And climbing.