Sticks and stones may break my bones but words…
… and insults will slowly and painfully eat me up from the inside.
Before we judge someone – anyone – we should make sure we’re not just being a nasty bastard.
Throw away insults
They’re all forms of bullying and I hate them all.
We’ve all done it though.
Some more than others.
Before we insult anyone we should make sure we know what we are talking about. Chances are by the time we’ve found out what the people we think we have the right to judge are really like, we will want to withdraw our comments.
And I suspect the comments we make about others are quite often more to do with our own failings than theirs.
I think name-calling and derogatory comments are far worse than swearing. And yet I see people complain far more about swearing.
I think insults are possibly even worse than a single punch.
I was hit once at school. Thrown to the ground by a girl in my year. My arms were full of books and I couldn’t defend myself or even balance myself. So I ended up on my arse on a cold, hard floor. Bruised my backside.
But what really upset me – and still upsets me – are the names that girl called me on a daily basis. Nasty names. Insulting language.
The most interesting thing about it, though, is that she didn’t know me. She really didn’t know me. If she knew me, she would have known that it wasn’t true. She might have seen that she was hurting me, and being unfair, she might even have cared that she was hurting me, and quite frankly talking crap, if she really knew me.
She wasn’t the only one. Other girls made assumptions about me. And even some teachers. Someone even gave me the wrong report once at 6th form college and I was too shy and upset to point out that they’d got the wrong Rachel.
It’s happened a lot to me. I bet it happens to everyone at some point.
And throw away comments about people’s appearance and behaviour, and name-calling those who think differently from us happens far too often in social media.
Before you call someone a leftie-greenie-hippie or a prophet of doom because they care about the environment, or a softie, middle-class liberal because they care about libraries and the arts, or even stupid because their spelling is bad, or scum because they live on benefits, or a grumpy unsocial git because they seem angry, opinionated or moody, stop and think about what you are saying. Do you know that person? Do you have the right to judge them? Are you, in fact, just being short-sighted and narrow-minded? What gives us the right to name-call? When we do this are we not instantly making ourselves a less worthwhile human being?
After all, name-calling is the stuff of childhood, of misunderstanding, of naivety…
Is it perhaps just a lazy way of saying we don’t understand a person or a type of person? And that lack of understanding surely means we actually don’t have the right or enough information to be so unkind.
I think if someone thinks they are wonderful enough to be prime minister then perhaps they are setting themselves up to be called a lizard but what about the rest of us? Us mere mortals?
I name-call. I shout insults at the TV when Question Time is on. I call the government ministers names when they make plans for things that I can see will hurt lots of people and I think they are being ignorant. I have called Margaret Thatcher a cow and Boris Johnson an idiotic prat, but what I really mean is I really have no reason to agree with how they do things and I am absolutely frustrated by the way they see the world. I shouldn’t do it though. It’s cheap.
When I hear environmentalists called ‘prophets of doom’, or people that write about or fight for social justice ‘do-gooders’, or ‘softies’ or ‘liberal whingers’ I think that those throwing away those easy insults are being lazy and narrow-minded. They’re not thinking about what they are saying. People that fight for things, stick their necks out and see a bigger picture outside their own sphere are not soft, they are actually very brave and taking the difficult option in doing something for their fellow humans that risks small-minded judgemental nastiness.
Next time I’m about to reach for the easy insults I will try to remember how it feels and work out what I really want to say.
(I’m going to really struggle whenever Jeremy Clarkson appears on my TV screen, though… )
First person to call me a ‘softie, liberal do-gooder, out-of-touch with reality’ gets a slap 😉