How many times have you heard a child say or indeed have said to a child when they have been upset by something another child has said to them: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me”? I have to admit I think I am guilty of this. It was something I was taught as a child and it is something I have probably told my own children a few times. Why do we say it? Is it because it is true? We all know that’s not correct. Of course words hurt us. We say it to try and convince ourselves not to let it hurt us, after all it’s just words, just sounds – isn’t it? Nonsense! Words have power. They create and they destroy. They weave an image which becomes a concept, which in turn becomes ingrained in our very being – cultures are born out of words. Think of some of the most powerful books, poems, songs, speeches. Laws are created by words aren’t they? Science and religion are made up of words aren’t they? Words are power! Especially the words you can’t even hear. The ones you think to yourself when you are alone. Yes, even that still little voice inside of you – that voice uses words – your words – and they have power.
Let us remember that words are our humanity. Let us teach our children to use words that have the power that will create not destroy, build others up not tear them down, affect positive change not fear and despair, clarity not confusion. We must mentor our children about the kinds of words that will be healthy for them to use in their lives and then let them build on that. And sometimes, just sometimes they have words to inspire us too. In days gone by we were led to believe that children should be seen and not heard. I believe that sometimes, just sometimes it’s us adults that should shut up and listen to what the children have to say.
Listen…listen to what the children have to say…
You heard the boy: “Let’s work together to change the world not just occupy it.”