This weekend my husband and I were out and about around town and came across a promotion a local business was having for St. Patty’s Day. It was a “Best Leprechaun” contest.
My husband and I started to chuckle and thought, “Sinny could enter and she’d be a shoe-in!” (In case you don’t know, our daughter Sienna, whom we call Sinny, is a Primordial Dwarf.)
After chuckling for a bit longer and reminiscing about how she dressed up as a leprechaun for Halloween several years ago, we got into a conversation about whether or not this sort of contest was offensive. BTW, she picked that costume out by herself and was adorable.
Part of our conversation included a discussion about how easily some people are offended. We feel like many times people are too easily offended as if they’re looking to be offended. If you listen to the world with “ready to be offended” ears, you’re going to be offended and life will not be as enjoyable for you.
In our family, we are not easily offended. In fact, when we were interviewed by Jay Schadler for a feature on 20/20, he discussed with us how we have a very “honest way of approaching” my daughter’s medical conditions; so honest in fact, some people are shocked with it. “Life is what it is,” was my response. You have to deal with it as positively as you can and not take yourself too seriously. We feel like for most part, people don’t say things out of hate or disrespect. We have found that most often people don’t actually understand what they’re saying and don’t understand that it could be hurtful.
Let’s take a common phrase regarding “the short bus.” This is a phrase I don’t like and while I don’t like it, I have found that most people haven’t given much thought to why they actually say that phrase and that it could be hurtful. People use this phrase out of ignorance. Ignorance is what we should focus on rather than assuming people are hateful.
So, next time you hear an offensive term, perhaps strike up a friendly conversation with that person about why they use that term and try to educate them on how it could be hurtful. They may not actually know and you may find that they did not have malicious intentions behind their words. As humans we don’t often like to be told what we can and cannot say, but by communicating with others the potential hurt of particular words/phrases, perhaps they’ll come to their own understanding and choose to refrain from using such words and phrases.
Yes, some people still say/do things out of hate, but we need to take it upon ourselves to decipher the difference between ignorant speech and hateful speech and, in both cases, strive to educate.
When dealing with people who still speak out of hate, you can do your best to educate them, but cannot control their actions. Yes, words CAN hurt, but the words you tell yourself are the most important. You are wonderfully created!
Now go give yourself a pep talk and a hug! 🙂