"Time after time we lose sight of the way; our causes can't see their effects."
—Rush, Natural Science
"You're a stupid bunny!"
That word – stupid, or iterations of it like dumb or idiot or brainless – is never okay when they're used to tease or demean, even if the context is somewhat playful, because that word can be objectifying, labeling, and even threatening because of its usual negative context.
We're cutting someone or something else down by using words like that. There's no mistake: it's quite intentional when we say, "You're stupid." Even from the mouths of babes, which has been a recent problem we've been working on in our house.
Both our girls have been using the word too frequently, and when they started to call us "stupid", although they assumed their context was teasing, it was not okay. At all.
"You're a stupid bunny!"
"Bryce," I called down the stairs, "please stop using that word. We don't call people or things stupid. Use another word, like silly bunny, or don't use another word at all. Thank you."
A minute later. "You’re a silly bunny!"
Obviously picked up at school from other kids using it, because even in my grumpiest Daddy Goat gruffness, I would never use words like that to describe either girl, or anything they do, poor childhood choices and all.
I can't say the same for when the Mama (what I lovingly call my wife) and I are talking about other adults and/or the world's state of affairs. I hope we've limited the use of any similar sentiment during calm or heated discussions when the girls are within earshot.
We're all works in progress, and the Mama and I are no exception to incremental growth. We work hard to keep each other honest and free from saying things that are never okay about attacking others, again no matter the context. Since the girls have been using the word way too much, we're all over it each and every time, reminding them not to call others stupid and to use other words that don't hurt – or nothing at all.
We're all about the Kidpower in our house, and if our children are calling someone by a hateful and hurtful name, and it's not okay with the adults in charge (us, their teachers, etc.), then it's never okay.
But what about if it is okay with the adults in charge? What about those in leadership positions including your immediate family, and/or those that work in the public or private sector and have a responsibility to their students, or their constituents, or their workforce, or their volunteers?
What if the adults in charge make it okay, including the current President of the United States? Where in public forums online or in person, we call each other losers or dummies or dumbshits or fuckups or faggots or fascists or libtards or c-words or worse?
What then? Do we just scrap this whole thing we call empathic humanity for being able to say any friggin' thing we want because we think we’re better, or we don’t agree or like something or someone else?
Does it make us weak when we cry foul at those using words that attack us and cut us down?
I believe it actually makes us weaker when we can't have civil discourse around dissenting opinions, even if it ends in stalemate; and when we just can't be nice and call each other hateful names because we think we're better, and that it's funny and we want to intentionally hurt.
Unfortunately, our emotional trigger fingers get itchy really quick these days and we overreact and underwhelm. Good God, there are also way too many people today who revel in being bad to each other's good, who respond positively to the negative celebrity of it all.
And for those of you today who say, "Wow, everybody's so sensitive; we can't say or do anything anymore," what you really mean is, "Wow, we can't get away with saying or doing anything we want any more."
Our children don't miss a beat when it comes to modeling our language and behavior. It's time for the adults in charge to continue to call out the other adults in charge to clean up their offensive acts and mouths. Being good to each other shouldn't feel so stupid bad.