“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”…
What a load of crap! That old line that our parents and teachers used to roll out and say to us whenever we complained about being teased or bullied, is just plain wrong! Words do hurt-words have the ability to hurt us very much. They can even kill. I have talked with many victims of abuse over the years and have been told many times “I could handle the hitting-it was the words that did the real damage.”
Words hold an enormous power. They are the things that allow us to make meaning from the world around us. They can lift us up or drag us down. They can make us scared or make us laugh out loud. A single word can make us happy or sad. Words hold power.
Words affect how we feel about ourselves and about others-both our own words (our “self talk”) and those that are directed at us by others. We are also affected by words that surround us-e.g. other people’s conversations, in books and in the media.
Words that are positive empower and unify us.
Words that are negative disempower and separate us. They fracture and marginalise us.
Why is it then, that when I woke up and turned the TV on this morning and watched our politicians in action, I felt physically ill? The very people who we have elected and paid to represent us and to supposedly work for the good of our country, using and abusing words like weapons, using them specifically to cause hurt and pain.
I do not have a political preference. I spend my votes on people-the people who I believe best represent me in what is important to me at the time. (And this continues to change as I grow and change.)
But I, like many people I know, have grown increasingly fed up with how our politicians act and how they speak, both to us and to each other.
In the last week or so we have reached new lows. Following on from Alan Jones (The company we keep) today’s episode saw Tony Abbott continue on where Jones left off.
We all have words that have negative associations for us-they are “trigger” words. I’m sure you know what that‘s like-you’re having a pleasant conversation and all of a sudden there is a word that triggers a response for you-that takes you straight into a memory and a feeling that makes you feel bad.
Tony Abbott used this in a disgraceful way on the floor of Parliament yesterday. Alan Jones stated that the Prime Minister’s father had “died of shame.” Tony Abbott hurled these words at the Prime Minister about her “government of shame.” He used the words “… a government that should have already died of shame.”
He used exactly the same words as his friend Alan Jones, again directed at Julia Gillard.
The “Sunrise” reporter Mark Riley described them as “a poor choice of words.” They were not a “poor choice of words.” They were a disgraceful, shameful and unforgivably cruel choice of words. What’s conveniently overlooked is that they were a choice.
Incredibly, ”Sunrise” then gave Alan Jones airtime! (Why???)He described Abbott’s verbal assault simply as “an unfortunate choice of words” then launched into an attack on the government.
Where is the accountability? Where is the personal responsibility? Where is the cut off point that says “Enough!!”
Politicians’ lives and careers revolve around the use of words- words are their bread and butter- their livelihood- and they need to be held responsible for them. If Tony Abbott worked in a private corporation he would be sacked. If you or I spoke to people like that we would be sacked. He said he was “oblivious” to his choice of words. Crap.
Words can be used for good, or for evil.
We get to choose….