Monday, April 8, 2013

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword

It’s not just a saying anymore.  It’s oh-so-true.  Every single one of us communicates with others every day.


They are beautiful.
They are powerful.
They can build up or they can hurt.

I have been what could be considered hyper-aware of words recently.  I think there are words that we use in our daily language that are used almost equivocally.*  This understanding has been heightened very recently because of my trip to Lourdes, and my contact with the sick there.

Take, for example, the word “retarded”.  It makes me shudder to hear this used casually.  I think in the past couple years, more awareness has come concerning using the “retarded”, vs. actual mental retardation, which is certainly not something to joke about.

Well, what about other similar colloquialisms?  In the cafeteria on a typical day, you can hear “That’s so depressing” or “I’m starving”, among any number of other such phrases.  Are you really experiencing depression?  Are you actually dying of hunger?  I doubt it.  

Using these terms in such a common and thoughtless manner is decreasing the significance and knowledge of these problems.  As we incorporate “starving” into daily language, it ceases to take on the shock value when I say that “These children are starving in China”.  When the professor says that an idea is depressing, it decreases the impact of someone saying that they legitimately have depression.  We are de-valuing these problems and saying that they are less serious than they should be.

Why do we joke about such things?  There are such huge problems in the world today like eating disorders, cutting, depression, psychological issues, etc., and these should not be discounted or minimized.

I can’t say I’m great at this right now.  But I am actively working on it, and I encourage you to do the same.

Pay attention to your words.  They can build up, or tear down to the ground.

*please take note: despite my apparent lack of understanding, I am incorporating philosophy into daily life.


  1. I never thought about saying "that's depressing" before. I'm with you on people saying, "that's retarded" being a pet peeve of mine, but I actually think you can use the word "depressing" without evoking medical "depression".

    I once suffered from depression and I never considered people using the word depressing to ever be trivializing the condition.

    By the way, I'm jealous of your trip to Lourdes!

  2. I guess it just seems to me that the condition of being 'depressed' seems to be minimized when the term is used so often and so loosely. I think people don't necessarily mean what they are really saying, which I would consider to be part of the problem.

    Thanks! I'm hoping to get a post or two about my France trip up soon.