Friday, October 26, 2012

An "Acceptable" Four Letter Word

There's a sneaky word out there that does a whole lot more damage than most any curse word I have ever heard. It's a four letter word that gets thrown around and used for almost everything.

The word is - Hate -

To be trite, I hate the word hate.

To be more precise, I feel it is a very damaging word that portrays images of terrible violence even if it is used in connection with an object as in, "I hate this refrigerator." So much anger, and pent up emotion that it makes me cringe. I can see the person who is at such odds with the refrigerator just kicking the machine, probably damaging his or her toe, and denting the fridge.

Granted, saying that one hates an object is far more minor than saying you hate a person. Using the word hate in connection with a person is terrifying. All that anger and violence directed at another living thing...

What is even more terrifying is when the word comes from the mouth of babes. I strive to never use the word hate in my household, but somehow my 3 year old discovered the word and is quite fluent at using it in its correct context...which is to say, in a violent rage. It's horrifying. And to think, this child of mine has most likely gleaned this word from one of her favorite educational television shows...Caillou...A children's show on the PBS channel that proclaims to have high values and educational merit. Yet, somehow the editors allow the four letter word to enter into the show.

I have never heard Caillou say the word in the context of a person, but it still is no less damaging. The word has been introduced in the context of anger and frustration, and a child will easily translate that to all and any angry or discontented moments. It's now our job as parents to educate our children that Hate is a very ugly word, because even "safe" shows are not always aware of what they are filtering to our children.

The consequences of hate are not just a damaged refrigerator or a stubbed toe. Hate is the absence of love and respect. And the phrase "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" is a false proclamation of confidence from an already damaged person who has been served the derivatives of hate by people who are name calling, slurring, and otherwise trying to damage someone. Other people's behaviors can be inappropriate and disliked, but every human needs to learn to communicate with understanding. It's a lifelong challenge for most people, and people need to work on building self esteem not just within themselves but within other esteem...people are cool!

I believe that people are entitled to their opinions, likes and dislikes. However, with entitlement comes responsibility. It's the responsibility of every person to respect and love your neighbor as yourself.

An exercise to try would be taking the word hate out of the vocabulary and replacing it with the word love. If that is too much, at least tone down the violence and use the word dislike, even if it is for the refrigerator. "I really dislike this refrigerator." I suspect that both the toe and the refrigerator will remain undamaged and the high level of emotion will have dissipated.