In my world, I must say only nice things, only pleasant things. I’m not supposed to say what I truly believe, feel, or think because it may offend or hurt someone else. But doesn’t lying hurt, too?
For example, at my job we cannot say anything that might hurt or offend someone else or in any way upset them. So, I must monitor every word I utter in an effort to be absolutely neutral in what I say. I also cannot reach out and physically touch someone—not a hug, not a light touch on the shoulder, or a comradely hand to the back—without taking the risk of being accused of sexual harassment.
And these same restrictions spill over to my life away from work, too. If those at work were to read my blog and found it somehow threatening, non-professional, or in any way hurtful, then I could be reprimanded. If I e-mail someone (on a personal e-mail account), or make comments on Facebook or Twitter, I can be accused of being a cyberbully.
So, what happened to the world of freedom of speech, to a world where truth of perception, belief, and feelings were welcomed instead of this half-baked Disney World where only banalities and neutral non-speak are acceptable?
Am I advocating bullying (in person or on the computer)? No, but then again, one man’s bullying is another man’s truth. How are we to learn if we cannot speak? How can a child learn sensitivity if they never experience pain—the pain of hurting someone else, or the pain of being hurt themselves?
Just because you tell a child that certain words are hurtful does not guarantee that they will understand. You probably grew up being called names or being excluded from activities, I think most of us have. So each of us has our own set of “hurtful”, “not nice” words or actions that we try to teach to others. But if a child never sees the result of using hurtful language or taking hurtful actions, or if they are never the recipient of those hurtful words or actions, they have only your word that those terms, phrases, or actions are “bad”.
Eventually, that won’t be enough. Eventually, all they will see is that their parents are afraid of certain actions or words. They will become curious and may simply try using those words or performing those actions, or they may become manipulative, using your fears to their advantage.
I understand wanting to spare others what we each went through—we all try to do that—but if we don’t allow others to make mistakes, if we don’t stop creating and enforcing rules that make us live in a false world based on pretense and insincerity, then we all suffer. I find it infinitely more stressful to be constantly watching and gauging everything I say and do for fear I may offend or hurt someone, than simply allowing myself to be who I am—someone who would not intentionally hurt someone, but may (occasionally) put my foot in my mouth. My life, then, becomes like a war zone, where each step I take can put me in the middle of a mine field, and each word I utter or each action I take can destroy my world.
I can no more stay silent (as stated in the old adage of saying nothing if you can’t speak nicely), than I can not write. Yet, how I am to gauge which words I write will annoy or hurt? I believe rather than police each other, we need to police ourselves—turn off those programs that you find offensive, do not read stories or writings that upset you, and by all means, walk away from someone whose ramblings you disagree with.