I only caught the end of the interview.
It was a program about lessons learned from fathers.
The person I heard being interviewed told this story:
He came home from school one day, and in response to his father’s question about how his day had been he told his father how he had seen a classmate teased and called names on the playground. His father asked him what he did in response to what he had seen and heard. ”Nothing,” he replied because he said he didn’t wanted to risk being teased and called names. To which his father said, “When you hear someone else being called names take it personally.”
What a lesson.
How often, I wonder, have I turned away or been silent when I heard another being called a name, or belittled or demeaned in some way? And, in doing so I gave and give tacit approval to what was being said and done. What if I began to take it personally?
What if I allowed the name calling to impact me the way it must impact another?
What if I finally began to feel and to understand the hurt or the shame that come with being the recipient repeated taunts?
What if I allowed the anger I would feel if the words were directed at me to be anger I feel on behalf of another?
Here’s what I think.
If we want things to change…
If we want the dialogue in our communities and our country about immigration, homosexuality, education, politics, red states and blue states or whatever topic/group you would like to add to the list, we have to begin to take it personally. We have to change our language and confront those whose language is offensive. Confront not only who use language with which we disagree, but also those with whom we agree who use language in a way that diminishes and demeans another.
We have to begin to take it personally.
What a lesson.
What a challenge.