The words I dare not say

 

And, Iím not going to say them. But I want you to think about them.

Over the years, itís been bothering me when people do say them. And the reason that itís been bothering me isnít found in the specific words. Words have weight, and words have meaning, and words can strike at others. They have power and can damage.

The troublesome part for me, however, is that I usually find that when people are questioned about using them in not-so-kind ways, they arenít actually sorry they said what they said.

Theyíre sorry because they got caught.

If you think about the two ideas, itís not difficult to see there is a massively vast distance between the two.

One more timeÖ

People arenít sorry they said what they said. Theyíre sorry because they got caught.

We need to consider three things hereÖ

First, the people that truly are sorry for what they said. Second, about those people that got caught. And third, that people gave you a glimpse of the truth. But as a starterÖ

What elements define character? Or, more precisely, if we are going to open up a period of judgement against a person, where do we look for the evidence?

I think, if we are going to come up with any type of simple summary, we need to be able to figure out a way to determine what is in a personís head and heart. What do they truly believe? What do they truly feel? That is not simple at all, and itís at the very center of my observation about being sorry about what you may have done versus being sorry because you got caught.

We risk pulling things out of context when applying sweeping standards such as what language or words have been used, who stands next to a person in a photograph, and trying to rise above stereotypes while applying stereotypes to define it. Two examples:

A new restaurant opens up in your town. ChineseÖ ItalianÖ MexicanÖ select the cuisine of your choice to create the menu. Now, what do the owners look like? Who is in the kitchen?

More than thirty years ago, Paul Simon and Sting were releasing new albums. Check out Simonís albums Graceland and The Rhythm of the Saints. Look at some of the comments and critiques about Stingís band and musical influences around the time of The Dream of the Blue Turtles.

What I am trying to establish is simple. There are talents and skills, influences and motivations, and occasionally round pegs work perfectly fine with square holes. But before you can determine whether or not a person is being honest and true in deed and thought, you need to know where those deeds and thoughts are developing.

Occasionally, the accusations begin. We hear about stereotypes about who can do certain things. Appropriation. Identity. Labels. These are just the surface concepts as well. We havenít wandered down into prejudice, discrimination and more.

And now, we get to our three-part progression.

Are people sorry for what they said?

Itís a tricky question.

Some people actually are. They either didnít intend the harm they caused, or, they use it as a learning experience to grow and improve.

Others are most definitely not. They may slide into damage control mode, where they defend their actions, attack the criticisms, or look for ways to support what an outstanding and misunderstood person they truly are.

Can be virtually impossible to gauge the truth, especially living in a day and age of immediacy. Reporters and activists want justice now, often at the expense of reality.

And that brings us to the people that got caught.

Where were they caught? What did they do? Why is it important?

All sorts of topics floating around for consideration.

Thereís an old idea for providing clarity in any situationÖ when in doubt, follow the money. And may I say without deep research or evidence, itís amazing how often apology tours accompany attempts at salvaging career status. Thatís not a positive character trait on display. Thatís not the truth within head and heart. Thatís self-preservation with an underlying leaning toward entitlement and narcissism.

In my many years of personal experience and development, there is one piece of advice Iíve found to be true more often than not: For initial impressions, the most trustworthy sources are children and puppies. And this advice is something I keep coming back toward as I try to consider, develop, sort and express my opinions on this idea. The rest of us are too clouded in judgement by the fog of experience.

See, I donít believe there are definitive areas that cannot be visited by anyone. Be it the words we are or are not allowed to speak, the styles we are not allowed to dress, the foods and music and cultures and more that are out there to be found.

If we truly mean that inclusion is important and diversity provides strength, the end result is that inclusion and diversity must be experienced and embraced.

Quick to judge usually comes at a cost of understanding. Or, as expressed so wonderfully by Neil Peart and Rush in the song ďWitch HuntĒ: ďQuick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand.Ē Great song.

If you plan on judging others for their actions and words, in order to be fair and honest you need to be willing to understand.

 

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com