Just because everyone is saying it, doesn’t make it so.
For years, people said the “The World is Flat” and due to the lack of scientific understanding, this idiotic notion was believed to be true. Of course, once science and technology afforded us the ability to do things like fly, travel into space, see deep into the Universe, we understood very quickly that it isn’t true. No, in fact, we are standing on a big round ball of dirt, and we are all being hurtled and spun through space at about 67,000 miles per hour. So when people ask me how fast I drive my car, I say 67,120 miles per hour. Depending on the day.
It seems we get bludgeoned by certain “sayings” all our lives. For instance, the one that has been playing over and over in my mind: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”
For me, personally, this is a load of crap. It truly depends on the name, and the person calling it out. And, unfortunately, I am not alone in this. Verbal abuse is a very big problem. Everywhere.
Names and bullying have caused people to commit suicide. That’s how bad those “names that will never hurt me” — will hurt. There are things we can do to learn, heal, grow from these situations. But sometimes, those places are very hard for people. Ultimately, it is said, that no one can control what we think and feel. What we have in our minds, in our hearts, in our souls, is our own.
But despite that very good and noble assertion, it still comes down to the fact that we are all human, and at times we are vulnerable. The feelings of being hurt are very real.
I am a part of a group that is doing a sort of “positive affirmations” deal. Where each day, you have a “good” thing that we set out to do in the world that day. A few days ago, our morning exercise was to tell people that we love them. It didn’t have to be out loud. It didn’t have to be people we knew. But if we got cut off in traffic, or as we waited in line at the grocery, or put on hold trying to call a service company — whatever — we were supposed to send out loving energy to the people involved. Partners, coworkers, waitresses, children, plumbers, whomever.
As it happened that day, I was a victim of very aggressive road rage. I was driving behind a guy, who’s license plate indicated that he was an 8th grade referee of all things. He was going 12 mph in a 35 zone. There was really not supposed to be a passing zone there. But, he was going so slow, I determined that I would be able to pull around him safely.
As I made my pass at 35 mph, he sped up. And continued to speed up, with the intention of not letting me over. As I mentioned, I had ample room to pass, and I was in my very good BMW. So I gave it what it needed in the way of the gas pedal, and away I went. As I passed he was flipping me off, shouting, through spit and bulging neck veins. Once I got around him, I slowed to about 40 mph (my intended speed of progress). He stayed as close to my rear bumper as possible just short of hitting me. This went on for a hundred yards or so, and I finally eased off the gas, faded to the right, and motioned him on to pass.
Well, it was a good intention. Instead. He pinned my car in, rolled down his passenger side window, and continued to obliterate me with profanities and suggestions about my sexual persuasion. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and then turned and faced him (with my window still up, I’m not stupid) and I told him I loved him. Repeatedly. “I love you.” I made prayer hands. “I love you.” And I rinsed and repeated, several times.
This only seemed to infuriate him even more. More spitting, spewing, red-faced yelling. When I realized this was not helping, I decided to ramp up and over the small snow bank in front of me, and go on my way. Thankfully, he did not follow, but turned down a side street.
Even though I responded non-aggressively, the situation affected me immensely. I began crying moments after I pulled away. A few times more, I have thought about it, and it has felt upsetting. Each time, I avow, not to give this guy any more real estate in my head.
I’m running long here. But the thing is this. Our words truly are powerful. What comes from our mouths, what we hold in our intentions, are very influential in this world which is filled to the brim with energy. Today, may we use our words wisely. To help, and not to hurt. To be an extension of peace.
“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
― Rudyard Kipling
“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
“I believe that words are strong, that they can overwhelm what we fear when fear seems more awful than life is good.”
― Andrew Solomon