Bad Words

When I was a kid, you never said you were bored.  Bad things would happen if you declared boredom.  Saying you were bored was a mistake you only made once.  When I did it I was probably 10 or 11, it was the middle of the summer and I was whining.  I turned to my Mama and drawled out "I'm booooooooooorrrrrrrreeeeeed."

And then all hell broke loose.  You'd have thought I said something terrible.

But for Mama, "bored" is terrible.  It demonstrates laziness, both physically and mentally.  That's her bottom line for human existence, if you can't at the very least entertain yourself, maybe you don't need to be here sharing oxygen with the rest of us.

To prove her seriousness and to "give me something to do" she made me clean all the outside windows.  With newspaper and vinegar, dragging the ladder behind myself so I could reach them all.  Any time somebody I know whines about being bored I still remember the smell of newspaper and vinegar .

To this day, we don't say the "b-word" in our family.  If you do, you'll get put to work, no matter who you are.  Boredom simply isn't acceptable.  It's not an acceptable word and it's not acceptable way to live.

Mama recognized the power that words can have and she made sure we understood, too.  The words we use seep into our subconscious.  They influence how we act and how we view ourselves and the world.

In my recognition of the power of words, there are a couple I try not to say, and strongly discourage my nephews from saying.  These include: "shut up" and "hate."  Sometimes I have to explain to them why I think it's important to find a better word and sometimes I have to explain that better words really do exist.  And that we can all do better than "shut up" and "hate."

There is never an appropriate time to say "shut up" to anyone.  It sends a terrible message that the speaker doesn't matter.  That what they are trying to say isn't important and that by extension they aren't either.  "Shut up" is mean.  It's nasty.  It's thoughtless.  We can do better.

I try to make them understand that no matter how much they can't stand a person, place, or thing, that they don't hate it.  That we're better than hate.  That hatred makes us blind.  They can despise something, they can think it's gross, they can not like someone, but that they can't hate.  I try to make them see that you can't come back from hate.  That hate is too permanent and too final.  We can do better.

In this scary scary scary time we're living in, I think it's more important now than ever to not be bored, to not shut up, to not hate.  And I think we have to make sure, like my Mama did, that we never forget why it's important to not use those words or to live them.

We're better than boredom.

We're better than shut up.

We're better than hate.

And we need to live every damn day remembering that.


Popular posts from this blog

The (Alternative) Commencement Speech*

Life is hard and things are shitty sometimes

Go ahead and stick a fork in me, I'm done

Five-Year Plans


Strangers on the Internet