As a teacher I often tell students it’s not always what you say, but how you say it that matters. Today I was reminded of how powerful that statement is.
At the end of my workday, a woman entered my classroom to complain about my nanny walking on the side of the road with my kids. Her point was that she didn’t think they were wearing bright enough clothes, and she nearly hit them. It was 3 pm on a relatively sunny day, so I was a little unclear on why she was so upset, but I told her I would speak to my nanny, who also happens to be a very close friend.
The story I got from her was very different. The woman confronted her first, and my nanny tried to be diplomatic and then continue with what she needed to do. The woman suggested she wear a reflective vest, to which my nanny replied that she would. The woman didn’t give it up though, and her next statement hit a nerve because of the implication behind it. She said, “maybe you can ask your employer to buy one if you can’t afford it.” This statement is insensitive to begin with as this woman had no idea the affluence of my nanny, but it was compounded by the fact that my nanny happens to be African American. She was, rightfully, offended and still seething about the incident a few hours later. It reminded me how much weight our words have.
We should all be more careful with our words, even in politics.
When it first became apparent that Trump would be the nominee, I had hoped maybe he would take on Cruz or Rubio as his running mate to make him more palatable to those of us who disagree with him, but he used words to malign them. When he became the nominee, I hoped he would apologize and unite the party, but he continued to use words to attack his own party members. Hillary Clinton used words to call half the country “deplorable” and insult Bernie Sander’s voters.
If we take nothing else from this election, we will remember how nasty it was. How words made it where we couldn’t let our children watch the debate for fear of what they might hear. We will remember how words were thrown back and forth and how divisive they made this country.
Remember that old saying: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?”
I wish we could remember that our words have power and think before we speak.
Lorana Hoopes is a Christian author who focuses on the inspirational with a touch of romance.Her books are available at Amazon.