Dec 10, 2012

The Power of the Voice

In a world where each individual is entirely insignificant to the whole, the one thing that makes each of us stand out is our voice, whether in song, in writing, or the words we speak.  As I have read through hundreds of poems from students all across America, two themes stand out:  our search for love and acceptance, and the pain from others' words.

I can't even begin to count how many poems I have come across about the intense hurt students have felt from their peers at school, confessing of the cuts and burns on their arms as a way to release their pain. People are purposely CUTTING themselves, stepping on the line between life and death.  I don't even want to get into how many suicides have resulted from bullying.  Name calling and teasing have become an epidemic that too many are shoving aside as harmless fun, or as a normal part of growing up.  But belittling others is not okay.  How has that one crucial rule of civilization slipped through the cracks?

In the Herald Journal, an article was printed about how a waiter "named" his customers on their receipt, calling them "Fat Girls."  Yes, of course, as a fat girl myself, I'm automatically hurt.  But the real sting comes from the realization that there are still many adults out there who don't realize how emotionally painful words can be.  I read through the comments posted on the article, and was shocked and sickened by how many people laughed about it, poked fun of the women's weight, and showed outright insensitivity.

I can't help but wonder just how many people are unaware of how stinging and hurtful words can be.  Really, really stinging.  I cashiered for a couple years at a local department store.  An amazingly wonderful day could come crashing down to the depths of hell from one simple rude customer.  A name called to me more than 25 years ago in Kindergarten still stings to this day.  I don't care what people say.  Words are the most powerful weapon a person can possess...and everyone is equipped with this power to kill.

I thought that people grew out of the name-calling stage, grew out of the adolescent stage where fat people or ugly people, or dorky people were fun to make fun of.  But it is alive and well, thriving successfully throughout society, and embraced by nearly everyone.  Bullying isn't just about physically harming a person--it's intentionally hurting a person in any way they can...and name calling is one of those ways.  Is it a way for making ourselves feel superior?  Is there a Hitler complex that makes us feel that only beautiful people deserve to live, deserve to be treated fairly, and that everyone else is trash?  Is this who we, as a human race, as spirit brothers and sisters, have become?  Is there any way to stop this, to make others realize the cruelty, the simple wrongness of it all?  Or are we about to face another Holocaust?  Gas chambers or not, cruel words work just as well at tearing the flesh apart and melting away our dignity down the drain.

Words have an amazingly powerful effect on us.  They stick like super-glue and give us our identity, whether we want it to or not.  What a powerful tool to have...yet how careless and reckless so many of us can be!  God created the world with His voice.  What are we doing with the power of our own voices?