Day 102: Banishing the R-word

Language is a powerful, powerful part of human life. When strung together, words can create peace between countries, start wars, feed eager minds with beautiful new worlds and ideas, heal wounds, damage hearts and build incredible connections.

For how effective and intense it is, we treat language surprisingly recklessly. Sometimes we fling words around like they don’t even matter, as though they float (or fly) out of our mouths, break apart and then disappear into the air. On the contrary, our words slip into our recipients’ ears and make the neural network rounds, eventually becoming part of each person’s very make-up.

As an aside, this phenomenon is even more apparent in the Twitterverse, where Tweeters tend to forget that every 140-character burp is preserved online, no matter how mean or mundane (I admittedly  fall into the mundane category, but I vow to never, ever be mean).

In acknowledgment of language’s power, I love this campaign to end the R-word (“retard/ed”). Today is R-word awareness day, and I’m pledging to not say it. I hope you’ll take the pledge, too.

Here’s what R-word.org says about why it should be banished:

The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It’s offensive. It’s derogatory.

Our campaign asks people to pledge to stop saying the R-word as a starting point toward creating more accepting attitudes and communities for all people.  Language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions.  Pledge today to use respectful, people-first language.

Let’s do it.