Sticks and Stones
Posted on September 14, 2011
“Sticks and stones
May break my bones
But words will never hurt me”
Ladies and gentlemen, this is singularly one of the most stupid things I have ever heard, or read. Sadly, just about every child in our universe (the English speaking universe that is) will know that saying, and whilst I can maybe see where someone might have vaguely been coming from when they ‘coined’ that phrase, that doesn’t detract from the fact that it is almost unrivalled in terms of its sheer ignorance and stupidity. The utterly overwhelming damage which that philosophy can cause to people, whether they themselves ‘live’ by it or not, is staggering. To cut a long story short (please, do go and read up on this), words generally cause more harm to people than bullets and bombs themselves. And whilst the damage may well be primarily psychological, emotional, and even spiritual, did you know that this year in the United Kingdom alone, over 4000 people will commit suicide? Not only that, but it is estimated that suicide is under reported by 30 to 50 percent.*
The fact remains that whilst (up to) 90% of people who commit suicide have a ‘psychiatric illness’* (although that term in itself is a very contentious issue), the majority of psychiatric illnesses which contribute to a person committing suicide are ones which (from the psychological perspective at least) are either born out of, or intensified by, social factors. Including, and especially, the effects which other people’s words can have on a human being. As Wittgenstein famously said; “uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination”. Now, if one takes “imagination” to also mean “soul”, then it becomes fairly obvious how words can have such a profound impact on the souls of human beings. (I bet the author of the quote above wishes that (s)he had thought of that before putting pen to paper!)
It is at this point that I went off to describe a number of things which personally happened to me today which caused me to write this post, however upon reflection, and with the advice of a good friend (who knows what he is talking about!) I have decided to revise my post, and instead concentrate on a much more important side to this issue.
All too often in life people are saying things to one another, about one another, and involving one another which is not only often unkind, nasty, and slanderous, but also unhealthy for us as a people, but also a race. We human beings, or Homo sapiens, are social creatures, and so it is apart of our spiritual and emotional, not to mention psychological and social needs, to have positive interactions with other people. Not only for our own health and wellbeing, but also for the sake of other people’s happiness too.
The four concepts of the Human Condition, according to Christianity, are Sin, Alienation, Suffering, and Death. I won’t go into Sin as that is a very subjective issue. However, the latter 3 concepts are concepts which are evident in life, but more importantly, generally define our existences as people.
The fact is that we are all suffering through the Human Condition together, and whilst apart of this is – by definition – Alienation, one way in which we both alienate others, and consequently ourselves, are through harsh, ill placed, and unkind words. It really is not that difficult (trust me, as I often think things of people which I would never say. Not because they are unjustifiable, rather because they could cause problems for me, or for them) it is not impossible.
Ultimately as a species we want to see the prosperous progression of our kind into the future. Sadly however we live in a war-ravaged hate filled world. Which is very sad, as if – as I did this morning – one pauses to observe the world in still, one will notice that this world is utterly beautiful in so many ways. Moreover, this world is full of utterly beautiful people, and truly beautiful philosophies too.
I am yet to come across a person who doesn’t ultimately want to feel happy, fulfilled, and content in their lives. Yet, the fact remains that one of the best ways to ensure self happiness is to be outwardly kind, loving, compassionate, caring, merciful, and forgiving, of others. Personally I am never happier than when I am actively engaged in work which is helping others. I am currently active in a few areas of society which is committed to the promotion of happiness. From working with kids who have great difficulty with reading and writing, to volunteering in a school for children with special needs. I am never happier than when I see another human being smiling, being happier, and living a more positive life, because of something which I have helped them with. This is not because I am apart of a small minority of people who have the ability to show love to others, rather because I am a part of a race which has the unrivalled capacity to show love and care to all who need it. (Which, by the way, is everyone).
My point here is that a way in which every person can ensure at least some positive steps towards personal happiness and fulfilment is to simply cut out the use of words and language which is damaging to a person’s soul. Kindness is not a difficult thing, heck, it is actually much easier than nastiness.
We are all a part of one race; the Human Race. Sadly by definition, this also means that we are all subject to all the very negative sides of the Human Condition. However; it is how we deal with, manage, and react to the 3/4 concepts of the Human Condition which will ultimately dictate our paths in life. To be kind, to be caring, to be loving, and to be understanding. To be compassionate, to be merciful, to be giving, and to be humbly receiving – these are traits which will not only lead to a more fulfilled life, but also to a more fulfilled species.
At the end of the day, we only live once. We might as well make it count?