Saturday, June 20, 2015

Words Matter...

Being in a position of power sometimes means taking a stand for what is right, not just what is popular.  I remember when I was the DES Coordinator in Montana of having to take a stand against what I, and others felt was the wrong direction.   There are consequences  to every action. Speaking up cost me a couple opportunities in Montana... yet opened doors eventually elsewhere.

These days many don't think about that before they make a choice, or when they say something. We are even taught a little rhyme about sticks and stones yet words will never hurt.  They reality is words hurt, and the words we choose paints a picture of not who we are describing but really of who we are...

Over the past many months, and for that matter few years there has been a cavern opening up in this country. There is not a day that goes by, where you open your news sources, and do not see headlines that use labels, and I'm not talking about registered trademarks.  With all the hate in the world these days.. I began to think,  does it help or is it like pouring gasoline on the fire when the media cannot report a story without using labeling words like black, white, gay, transgender, Christian, Muslim, Islam?  Especially in the early stages of a news story with so many unknowns, is this good journalism?

Don't get me wrong.  We have a race issue in this country... We have an ethnic issue in this country.  We have a sexual orientation issue in this country. We have a religious issue in this country...   In a country built on being the melting pot of the world, that divide is growing, not shrinking.  This melting pot is not working... Each and every difference is not being absorbed by others to create a new cohesive stronger solution. Instead we are seeing reactions as they violently fight against each other until explosions happen.

Now I grew up in Montana as a 4th  generation immigrant to this country.  I thought I never knew racism. I thought this  because I didn't think it resided in my small little corner of the world.  I later realized how naive and wrong I was.  We didn't have many people of other ethnic backgrounds, people of color or other religious beliefs, but I always figured this was someone else's issue because of how they were raised. We had our own prejudices and looking back it was just as vile as what I saw on television regarding other parts of the country.

We must face facts.  We are not born with hate in our hearts for people who look, act, worship, and believe differently than us.  This is taught over and over, generation after generation, by the words  we use and by our actions in how we treat others.  As I mentioned I grew up in rural America, and outside a little bullying, never faced living in a society where I felt threatened just because the color of my skin, or who I worship, or my sexual orientation.  I never grew up knowing people hated me because of things I had no control over.  I know I can't speak for someone who has walked in those shoes, however I do know, that until we stop using those words and those labels, and start raising generations that respect each other and our unique differences for who we are that will never change.

They say you cannot teach an old dog a new trick, well maybe but we can teach our younger pups differently by self consciously making choices that stop the cycle of hatred.  So I ask the media to do their part.  Report the news!!   Without labels that only enrage one part of the pot against the other.  Report the news accurately worrying less about being first but being right.  Report the news without presumptions and speculations.  Lead with headlines that paint the proper picture not a half truth like was done with the bail set for the individual who shot nine innocent people in South Carolina.    I ask you to report the news!!  I ask that you think more about how and what you write will be taken instead of what it will do for your bottom dollar.  I ask you to help be part of the solution, not the problem, and I ask you to help make this melting pot truly that.. A place where we all can recognize and appreciate what makes us unique and embrace our differences peacefully.

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