As representatives of BYU-Idaho, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and ourselves, we need to do a better job of watching our language.
Watching our language is about more than not swearing.
Too often, I hear phrases casually uttered that are rude, vulgar or downright insensitive.
The predominant culprit is referring to unfavorable or unpleasant things as “gay.” For some people, being gay is part of their identity.
Some of those people might even be struggling with that part of their identity, suffering because they feel forced into silence.
How much worse is their suffering when others are so crass as to equate homosexuality with mistakes, unpopularity and social gaffes?
The world is watching. How can we preach love when we spew hateful words such as those?
The insensitivity I have witnessed goes beyond that one example.
How often do students flippantly mention killing themselves over stressful situations? I know I’m guilty of this behavior. In fact, I didn’t realize how often I used that phrase until a friend of a friend died by suicide. All of a sudden, the meaning of those words became all too real.
Death is not funny or lighthearted; it is real and painful. We should always take threats of suicide seriously, and, therefore, we should never use them flippantly.
Since realizing my blunder many years ago, I have started using phrases such as, “I’m wearing myself thin,” or “I’m feeling overwhelmed with my workload.” Not only are those phrases more responsible and appropriate, but they are also more accurate.
I never truly meant those words as I said them. That is, perhaps, the greatest sin of them all: that as I let those hurtful words exit my mouth, I spared no thought for the implications of those words or those who have suffered loss and pain due to suicide.
Lastly, we need to eliminate “retarded” from our vocabulary. During one of my semesters at BYU-I, I had a roommate who asked me and our other roommates not to use that word. She said she thought it was disrespectful to people like her younger brother, who has Down syndrome.
At first, I fought against it. After all, retarded simply means slow, right?
Wrong. In fact, the definition that appears after Google searching “retarded” states the word is “dated” and “offensive.”
No amount of self-justification can erase the harm our words cause others.
I think Louis C. K. summed it up perfectly when he said, “When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.”
There is enough pain in this world without our adding to it with thoughtless words.
We need to remember that even when we do not mean our words, they still have meaning consider your words before you speak.