Those magical combinations of letters that become a reflection of our thoughts. Of ourselves. Because we are our thoughts. And we are our words.
And, often, the only way for others to get to know us is through the words we speak. Not everyone has the privilege of being privy to our thoughts, of seeing us at difficult times in our lives, of understanding that we are good people.
They evaluate us based on what they hear. Our words. And, for them, our words are our thoughts. For them, our words are who we are.
Often, very often, there is perfect harmony between meaning and how the words that leave our mouths and enter the ears of others are understood. Words become what we intended for them to be: they are peaceful and unequivocal. Friendly words.
Other times, however, this harmony doesn’t exist. And our words, while flying from our mouths to others’ ears, transform, turning into projectiles, atomic bombs. And they hurt … They hurt people we care about, people we would never wish to hurt. They turn into hostile words.
Some people do this on purpose. There are those who are aware of the manipulative power of words that turn into weapons.
But we – those of us reading these lines – don’t do it on purpose. Sometimes it just happens because we are not aware of how much the meaning of the words we say can mutate while they are ‘flying’ towards our listener. Because nobody has ever told us. Nobody has made us see. Or they have talked to us about it, but we didn’t listen. We didn’t realise how important it was.
Faggot, poof, ugly transvestite …
No, those aren’t the words I’m talking about today. Of course they’re terribly offensive, a ‘declaration of war’, used to annihilate … but they’re so obvious, so transparent in their intent to harm that it doesn’t take a team of enlightened minds to determine how much danger they pose.
When you think about it, the word lesbian is often interpreted as an insult. Even though every dictionary in the world defines it simply as a woman whose sexual orientation is homosexual. A woman who loves women.
Today we aren’t talking about words that are blatantly offensive. The words we’re discussing today are actually among the most beautiful in our language and in every language in the world. And even when they aren’t among the noblest words, they are words we use every day, a thousand times a day. And they can make the people who hear them feel excluded.
But how can a normal word make someone feel excluded?’ they ask me. Exactly, that’s it. Normal. I’m already starting to feel excluded.