Friday, August 15, 2014

Only Sticks and Stones

On KHOW this morning Mandy said that if anyone's words cause you pain, "That's on you,"

Sticks and stones, blahdy blah.

The "just words" myth will never die because the human brain requires it at a certain stage of development in order to cope with the knowledge that you will get hurt. It seems empowering to declare yourself above verbal injury, but that comes at too great a cost for most people. For healthy people, human vulnerability is worth it.

The myth of "sticks and stones", the idea that nobody's words can ever hurt you, is a denial of humanity.  Words have power with human beings and words can hurt human beings.  There's no such thing as a one-sided coin.  If no one's words can hurt you, then how can a poet move you?

What an intoxicating ideal, a demigod ideal.  Imagine walking through life like that - never injured by anything that you've decided won't hurt you.  When a loved one is cruel, it rolls right off.  When trolls photo shop your father's dead body being raped by animals and put obscene captions to it, it doesn't phase you at all.  Human cruelty in the form of mere communication doesn't touch your soul.

There are such demigods, who look upon verbal cruelty as a poor excuse to "whine", who can brush off cruelty, who blame the injured for being injured.

Bullies, narcissists and sociopaths.  They don't see pain as valid unless they see bruises. 

And they've got a bit of wisdom for you: your pain is "On you".

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