Living Wright: Insults can hurt worse than injury
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
10/30/12 at 5:18 AM
Go to Jason Ashley Wright's BlogOriginal Print Headline: Insults can hurt worse than injury
That whole "sticks and stones" saying never sat well with me.
It made for disturbing visuals for a kid like myself with an overactive imagination - even creepier coming from a smiling teacher with a lilt to her voice, practically cooing the phrase "break my bones."
As I grew up, the "words will never hurt me" part seemed like a line of bull. Scrapes scab over, bruises fade - that pain's typically fleeting. But moments of mean-spiritedness from childhood can linger, and the most hateful phrases reverberate in memories far into adulthood.
Such childhood traumas are, to a degree, easier to relegate to certain recesses of our minds - like a little cubbyhole labeled with "1985" or "middle school." You try to forget them and dismiss the experiences as "kids will be kids." Get over it, move on, picture the bully in a pillory being pelted by rotten fruit.
But what about when it's a total stranger - an adult - who walks up to you in a store and berates you for your physical size, spewing vitriol with no provocation? That happened to a dear friend of mine recently, and I haven't been able to get it off my mind.
In the mind of a bully
Maybe I'm naive, but it never ceases to shock me when people are intentionally cruel to others, especially when it comes to appearances, ethnicities or lifestyle choices.
My friend's reaction was simply silent shock, her husband told me. That's when I envisioned everything from screaming an obscenity in the perpetrator's face to flat-out slapping her - all childish, unproductive responses.
Such behavior is pointless, of course, and contempt tends to beget more of the same, ensnaring additional victims along the way. I, too, probably would've just stood there, mouth agape, stunned.
I'm not quite altruistic enough yet to think what I should: The hateful woman had probably been treated that way herself, bless her heart. Hers is probably a sad story. My only reaction should be to suck it up, go home and pray for her.
At the very least, when people offend us similarly, we should be able to say "mind your own business" or "look the other way," then move on. I'd like to think I'd look the person square in the eye and say, "It sucks, whatever happened to you. I'll pray for ya," then walk off. The trick is to actually do just that.
So maybe it's best to walk off. My only qualm is leaving the offender thinking, "Well, I got that off my chest with no repercussions" - and that kind of sends me back to those slapping fantasies. I just really think there should be consequences.
To be honest, what I want is to see those consequences, which is a horrible mind-set. That's a private matter between the offender and God. Who cares if that woman from the store crept back to a lonely house between neighbors who ignore her, or whether she boarded a helicopter in the parking lot to have dinner in Dallas before jetting to Paris for a massage - that's not our concern.
This is our concern: Junk like this will keep happening to us and those we love. Our responsibility is to remind one another of our worth and to love, period - and, perhaps, swap out the "sticks and stones" saw for the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" or Gaga's "Born This Way." Just keep a stick or stone in your trunk in case the next mean woman in a store is packing heat.