As a writer and avid reader, I am fully aware of the profound life-changing impact of words. Words have gravity - they bring you back to earth.
And to be honest, most people don't get it. So, and let's trademark this new word, I'm going to "Writer-splain" it to you.
This is why your words matter.
Words Speak Love, or Hate
One of my favorite terms has always been "rhetoric."
Here's the definition, straight from Google:
Rhetoric (noun): "language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content."
The words you use and ideas you spread with have an impact on people. And here's the kicker - they probably impact the people you love.
Example 1: You've been bitching about Nike on Facebook because they aligned themselves with Colin Kaepernick. You like to use those memes that talk about patriotism, Trump, and the almighty American flag.
In reality: You've completely ignored that Nike didn't really "take sides." Nike is the official jersey sponsor of the NFL - this ad hasn't changed that. This was a purely financial move, people. You've also ignored the fact that throughout history, those who practice silent protests actually changed things for the better... I don't know, does the name Rosa Parks ring a bell?
I'm sorry, but patriotism and respect for a flag that in many ways tramples on huge segments of the American population deserves to be challenged...
Look at history. Ask yourself "Does anyone kneeling at the flag hurt me?" No. It doesn't. This isn't about you, so accept that and move on.
Example 2: Immigration is clearly affecting your everyday life. Legal or not, it's obviously caused serious mental and physical harm to you, your large family, economic success, and college education. So, you whine about it.
From the neutral point of view, the immigration system does need more regulation. We need to make it easier, have a more transparent system, and stop talking about hate, violence, and crime (plenty of US citizens are criminals...) This, however, doesn't mean we close the borders with a giant cement wall, take children from their families, or round-up hardworking people who have been living here for decades.
In reality: Chances are, you're only an American citizen because your family came here on a boat. A boat they could have died on. A boat that may or may not have gone through Ellis island.
The immigration issue is reminiscent of other issues we've debated. Primarily ones involving the African American, Native American, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+ communities. Echoes of "you don't belong" or "you aren't enough."
Have you ever thought about what your hateful words, even if directed towards another group, affect those in your own life? Hateful rhetoric aligns you with the most extreme voices, whether you like it or not. Very quickly, those around who are anything other than "white, straight, and Christian" begin hearing you, and they start w a l k i n g away.
Words speak love, or hate. It's a simple truth.
These are just two examples. Two examples of things we probably hear about every. single. day. And we ask ourselves "where do I fit in this?" and "what can I do?"
After all of that, I want to say that I pretty much love everyone. People inspire me, especially ones who have lived different lives and have different ideas. All I'm really proposing here is a conversation.
Have a conversation, instead of spitting ideas and barking at anyone who disagrees with you. To be more blunt, shut up and learn something - you don't have to agree with it, just don't be an asshole. Who knows, maybe you'll learn something.
We talk more about what divides us than what makes us the same. Isn't that a shame? We have so much to learn from each other, and all we have to do to grow is speak love.