- Hard work
Stop saying that! There are many times we use words without thinking about their significance. Thinking about the deeper meaning behind the words we use helps us become more thoughtful and caring in our interactions.
We have to stop saying certain things. Too often we use words in emotional ways. We pick terms that are easy but at the same time can be elusive. This leads to miscommunications and miscommunications tend to lead to conflict.
The following is an explanation of why each of these words are problematic.
Stop Saying Things Without Meaning: Say what you mean and mean what you say.
At first, it might seem like these words are “just” words. But what do they communicate? If you are trying to make someone feel negatively toward someone, you might use one of these words. But have you really said anything? No, you have not.
We need to start thinking about the language we use in our day to day lives. Our words are everything. They say sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me, but that is not accurate.
Words carry meaning. Often times, they carry hidden or unacknowledged meaning. It is a privilege to not recognize the meaning of the words because it means you have never experienced being on or living on the receiving end of those words.
There are many words and phrases we should stop using. A lot of times the issue is ablest language that doesn’t consider how someone labelled that way would feel upon hearing it (e.g. retarded).
Sometimes we don’t think about the meaning of a word when we use it. So, we think that because we used it “with a different meaning” than the definition from which the insult came that somehow it gives it a different significance. Sorry, not true.
Stop saying lazy
The word lazy implies people actively choose not to act. Lazy intends to communicate that someone wants to take advantage of others.
I have met people who actually want to take advantage of others. They speak this freely. “Why should I do it myself when I can get someone else to do it for me?” This type of behavior happens a lot in families. These are not lazy people. They are horrible people and should be shunned, kicked to the curb, and abandoned to the elements until they figure out how to act right. Just kidding, kind of.
People have different abilities. They can only do what their mental and physical health allow them to do. People who know their limits are respect themselves enough not to put themselves at risk should not be called lazy.
But more often than not, the problem isn’t the person targeted by this personal attack. Rather the issue is the sayer of the word lazy. They are being judgemental and not understanding other people.
We don’t all live the same lives.
By way of another example, I once had a former friend characterize an overweight person in a wheelchair as lazy. They said “that person should get off their fat ass and stop being lazy!” The problem is they were assuming the person was in the wheelchair because they were last. They were judging them based on their physique rather than considering the person had a medical condition. They assumed if there was a medical condition it could be controlled with weight loss. Maybe you think that too. You’re wrong, but let us entertain the idea that their medical situation is none of your business.
Stop perpetuating the idea of hard work and the language surrounding hard work.
This pairs well with the notion of lazy. Again, it is a problem associated with an assumption. That assumption is that we all have the same abilities, capabilities, resources, and interests.
But we do not all have the same interests. For example, I absolutely do not like baseball or (American) football. I have opinions about these sports, but there are a lot of people who have these two specific sports as their favorite past time. For me, I have to control my words so that I do not offend others who enjoy these sports. I am quite capable of being abusive and mean. However, I try to be a good person and always look for ways to modify how I interact with others to ensure that I am being respectful of their humanity.
People think it is hard work that makes them prosper and other people suffer.
The people who work hardest in our society are the ones that get blamed for being lazy. This goes back to Adam Smith who explained poverty as a problem of laziness and affluence as the initiative of hard work.
There is a reason Adam Smith is praised while Karl Marx is demonized. Marx said hey lets look at history to explain why people are rich or poor. Smith on the other hand simply spewed hurtful language at the poor and praised the hard work of the rich to explain poverty and affluence. One of these two men had evidence. The other had emotions. Isn’t it ironic that the one using evidence is the one that is today demonized as “wrong” for promoting “laziness” among the masses?
Stop saying procrastination
Procrastination implies there is a timeline that must be upheld. It implies that a person is capable of working on that time frame.
When we use the term procrastination we are speaking negatively about a person or ourselves. The internet is filled with motivational quotes about procrastination. Yet very few have thought to question this toxic ideology and the foundation it is built upon.
To procrastinate is to delay or postpone something. But this implies there is a standard timeline that applies to everyone. In reality, is there? No, of course not. There are very few things that would warrant use of the word procrastination except work deadlines. Procrastination is an idea that is exclusively tied to work.
Too much of our lives are oriented around work. Children are growing up being told that they can work their way through college, with the implication that working in college is paying for college. Too bad it’s not!
People have other things to do. If they don’t and they fail to meet deadlines chances are they have a mental health problem or other obligations. Using the word procrastination to describe someone with mental health issues is stigmatizing their health and telling them they are the problem.
Stop doing that!
Please avoid saying stupid
Stupid is a term that a child once used so frequently that I picked it up in my everyday language to describe things I didn’t like or want to do. Whats wrong with stupid? The word stupid is an emotionally motivated word used when someone has a lack of communication skills, and is rooted in a history of horrific treatment of the disabled.
Remove the term crazy from your vocabulary
Crazy is a word with a history attached to women and people of color. Women were frequently institutionalized by their spouses if they did not conform to gendered expectations, were too free thinking, were otherwise difficult to control, or their husbands and/or families wanted them out of their lives.
Take the recent case of Brittany Spears. Brittany Spears did have a spat of mental health problems, but to imprison her under her fathers authority for live is taking it to extremes. Especially in this period of increasingly accepted mental health care, or as I like to call it: healthcare.
Crazy is also a term used to denigrate people of color, especially black folks who have very reasoned, logical, and insightful knowledge of how racism works. Crazy is a racist word, coded language intended to delegitimize the black experience in the United States. Even a former federal agent Phillip Shepherd experienced this racism and called it out on the popular television series Survivor.
Stop saying caucasian!
Caucasian is a term from the early days of scientific racism. The word emerged with two others: mongoloid and negroid. I am certain you would never use those terms today (except my mother in law but “she’s not racist!”).
Caucasian was a term developed by a guy who had a favorite skull and wanted to relate to it scientifically so decided Caucasian means white so it refers to “Europeans and the inhabitants of a region reaching from the Obi River in Russia to the Ganges to the Caspian Sea, plus northern Africans”. You see, skull size was an early form of scientific racism where if you head was bigger it meant you were better, faster, smarter and if it was smaller you were inferior, destined to servitude, and less intelligent. It was pseudoscience used to justify a hierarchy of power with white people at the top, complete with fancy term. Too bad caucasian doesn’t by this definition encompass any logical biogeohistorical entity. It is made up.
This type of science–which is not science, it is pseudo (aka fake) science–is still used against “fat” people in the form of BMI, which measures almost nothing about health.
Caucasian is a term that seems fancy and formal. In reality, caucasian is fancy in formal in how it is basically the white side of teh n-word. It is used to invoke white supremacy. To distinguish white hispanics (a term with its own problems) from “real” supremacist whites.
Caucasian is a racist term. It isn’t racist against the white people, but against the non-white peple it seeks to exclude. It is racist in terms of the way it invokes superiority to communicate that those who are not caucasian are inferior, lower than, and below.
More people should be aware of these facts. But we live in a society where discussing race is unbecoming, unaccepted, and thus racism lives on. Talking about race is offensive because it means recognizing the ideas and behaviors you have reinforce inequality when you feel you hold equality as a core value.
While words carry meaning in themselves, how we communicate those words is also important. We can use rather innocent words to communicate very harsh messages. It is all in how you say them. Tone is just as important.
However, it is important to keep in mind that just because you think you are saying certain words in an innocent way does not mean you are free from their underlying meaning.
The n-word is the n-word. It carries a significance and and it does not depend on who uses it. The historical context for the term and how it developed within hierarchies of race, class, and gender matter. While I think no-one should use this term, it is also not my place to make that claim. I will explain this further in a future post.
If we stop saying these words, the world will be a better place. In these times, conflict is everywhere. People need to stop saying things that will create conflict. To help ourselves stop saying things that offend, think about the language you use. I will too!
We are all in this together. Join the conversation and let us make progress on changing the world.