Today, 3/5/14, is a day to raise awareness: Spread the Word to End the Word. If you’ve not yet heard of this campaign, you can find all the details at www.r-word.org.
The “r-word”. This is the focus of this campaign. You’ve all heard it; you may have even said it. I have, before I ever learned how hurtful it can be. The purpose of a day like today is to share what I’ve learned about using such hateful language, even if you never intend any harm. Most people who say the r-word don’t have ill intentions; I’m here to tell you, though, that it is hurtful, and it is wrong.
This isn’t the first year I’ve recognized this campaign, or blogged about it, or posted about it on my Facebook and Twitter pages. I will continue to help Spread the Word, though, until more people are willing to admit that the use of any hurtful language is inappropriate. I’ve had lengthy debates with people over this, and I’ve heard a lot attempts to defend this word: “You can’t ban words, that’s ridiculous”, “You take this too personally”, “That word is still used in a clinical setting!”, or “It’s just a word”. I could go on, but I think my favorite is “I’m sick of having to be so ‘PC’ all the time”.
Let me tell you about being politically correct.
I’m sick of hearing people complain about it. You know what it comes down to? RESPECT. Easy as that. If we truly respected each other enough to stop making ignorant choices in our language, then there wouldn’t be such a cry for everyone to be “politically correct”. Instead, we could just call it “just being nice”. (This rant goes well beyond the use of the r-word. We’ll revisit this in a later post, I’m sure…)
I fear that it will be a long time before advocates like myself can relax and pat ourselves on the back because everyone is just being nice to each other. I’m not naive enough to believe that this will be a short-lived campaign. It will take a lot of diligent work, which is sometimes awkward; have you ever called anyone out for using the r-word? Or any inappropriate slur? It’s not easy. It sometimes causes conflict, and embarrassment. It must be done, though. It doesn’t have to be a huge confrontation; a simple, quiet, yet direct statement does the trick: “I think you would like to know that using that word is not appropriate. It’s hurtful and unnecessary.” And then move on. There’s no reason to dwell on it. Hopefully, the person who used the word will then stop to think before they say it again. If they don’t, you’ve at least planted a seed. That’s where it begins.
Alex has taught me a lot in his nine and a half years, much more than I feel I’ve taught him. I’ve become a more understanding person, more patient, and more passionate about standing up for issues that are important. This is a big one. When people use the r-word, they are insulting my son, and they are belittling all the hard work he has put forth just to keep up. I will not stand for it. He may not be able to speak up about this just yet, but I certainly can.
I wouldn’t tolerate the use of any slurs in my presence. Again, it comes back to that little seen attribute, respect. Hearing the r-word, though, launches me to the top of my soap box, and I won’t come down until I’ve let you know about it.
Save me a trip to my perch on that soap box, would you? Go to www.r-word.org and take the pledge. Share it on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Help us Spread the Word to End the Word.