Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Words have Power

So, here I am again this morning upset by something on the news. Now, I have mentioned before that I have a major depression disorder. I have mentioned that I am struggling right now to bring myself out of one of the deepest depression episodes I have ever had. It isn't easy, and I am not talking about it to garner sympathy. I talk about it because I know I am not the only person who struggles, and if my being open and transparent about it helps even one person know they are not alone, then it is good for me to talk about it. It's not easy to share about something as misunderstood as depression, especially when you are someone who is often the one your friends count on for encouragement and inspiration.But it seems important to share.

Some days I think must have fallen asleep and awakened in a different universe. Or maybe I am just getting old,but honestly, I don't remember civil discourse being so polarized and divided when I was younger. People have always disagreed, not seen eye to eye on things from religion to politics to current events to sports. I think, back before we communicated through a keyboard we remembered that those we disagreed with were fellow human beings because we were looking them in the eye.It was possible to engage in spirited debate and still remain civil.

It is possible to have friends that you are diametrically opposed to what they support and still remain friends. I know this because it is true in my life. I have friends from all political and religious parts of the spectrum and we love each other. I think it maybe because while we can think the  person is wrong or misguided we can respect that they have the right to feel and believe what they do. We understand that people can honestly look at things and understand them differently. Different doesn't mean someone is right and someone is wrong, it simply means different.And, honestly, differences can be discussed without demonizing or marginalizing the other persons opinion. In fact, as members of society we should each make it our project to bring the civic conversations in this country back to this.Because, the truth is, words have power, and you have no way of knowing who you are hurting with your words.

So, this morning, I actually woke up felling a bit stronger. I do have some great friends,and like my last post talked about, even in the midst of my struggles there are Everyday Miracles and good medicine. Now when I reminisce about the fact that people were nicer to each other back in the days when we could see each other I am in no way disparaging the community that can be created in cyberspace. I have made some amazing friends on message boards and facebook. In fact, for someone like me who is disabled and doesn't get out much anymore, social media can be a lifeline. but it can also be a minefield.

So, what has me so upset? Well, summer isn't good for me anymore anyway. My late husband's birthday, our wedding anniversary, and in 2 days the anniversary of his being killed by a drunk driver tend to not help me deal with my depression. But, I hang in there the best I can, and struggle through. This summer has been even more of a minefield, with the shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin. I am a survivor of random gun violence, and so the news tended to trigger my panic/anxiety issues. This week, it's the war of words over rape. Honestly, my PTSD kicked in the minute I read the first article.

I am a rape survivor, and really, I thought we had come so much farther in our thinking. I am not addressing the political aspects of this weeks brouhaha. I am just reacting to the insensitive words used by so many. In 1983, I was attacked and raped. I ended up in the emergency room with lumps and bruises and a broken collarbone. I dealt with the misogynistic treatment at the hands of the police and prosecutor's office. Apparently, since I wasn't a virgin, they felt it would be hard to prosecute. Crazy? Yeah, it was. The treatment I received from the authorities was, even in 1983, backwards and anachronistic. The man that attacked me went to jail, but ONLY because after he attacked me he went on a rampage and took an axe to a pay phone at a gas station. I guess I should have just considered myself lucky he didn't get the axe out of his car trunk until after he left me broken and bruised  in the alley behind my house.

I honestly thought we had come farther than that kind of thinking, but as I read comments on facebok and news pages, I see that we haven't. I feel like women my age should apologize to younger women. We thought we fought the battles for fair treatment and won them. Maybe we just thought once we achieved better it would stay that way, and apparently we have dropped the ball.

In can honestly accept that people have different political or even religious beliefs. What I can't accept is stone age language devaluing and trivializing rape. Words have power. No matter which side you are on in any debate, please, stand up for civility. Choose your words carefully, and ask others to do the same. The people those words hurt may be someone you love.

1 comment:

Andrea said...


It has been a hard week for all of us survivors. But we are strong, and the more we share our stories, the more light we shed, the more hearts and minds we open. Peace to you.

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