Thanks Anita, Lisa, Judy, and Anna. Thanks for taking the time to read and reflect on what I wrote in my last post on “The “F” Word”, and to respond. I hope those of you who didn’t read my last blog post, or did, but didn’t read the comments will take a look.
Today’s post was written in response to Anita’s comment. I was afraid you might miss it in the Comments section. I’m not sure how often other people read the “Comments”. (Me? I love to look at the comments elicited by other people’s blogs, but it can take time, so maybe people skip that part?)
Somehow I just knew that having a “Comments” section that functions was going to be an important part of my blog. Because what I’m trying to do is not just articulate my own thoughts and feelings, but also to hear from others, learn from others, and go through the “tumbler” of respectful, thoughtful conversation (not argument). To wear down the sharp edges of my own mental formations, to — in the overwhelm of too muchness — uncover a few thoughts worth contemplating, sharing, and clarifying through the process of dialogue .
Here, on my blog, I write, one, because I love to write. Writing helps me clarify for myself what I think/feel. I also write because I want the conversation, and the learning. In my last post, I was exploring my thoughts and feelings of my recently increased use of the “F” word, what that’s about, how it might be ok and useful, or not ok and harmful. I’ve been appreciating everyone’s comments, and, as a result of your comments, find myself more interested in the ways we use language, and wanting to be more thoughtful and clear about the way I use it. This is not a new intention. But I forget. I want to be bold, not harsh, kind, not timid.
I’m reminded how Marshall Rosenberg, who wrote “Non-violent Communication: A Language of Compassion” talked about how aggressive and actually violent our common use of everyday language is in our society. He wasn’t talking here about the use of curse words. He was talking about how we don’t Listen to each other, how we don’t Hear each other, how often we label, compare, demand, leap to judgement (of ourselves and others), and I would add, how often we give unsolicited advice before we’ve asked questions, been curious, listened, understood the dimensions of what a person is going through.
The subtler ways of being aggressive and defensive tend to go under our radar because we are so accustomed and conditioned to these ways of speaking. The common sort of everyday violent communication might leave us feeling angry, alienated and/or full of self-doubt, but we probably won’t even recognize it for what it is. We’ll blame someone else or ourself for a particular comment, feel yukky (excuse the technical medical terminology), and move on without really understanding the verbal violence that just occurred (this without a single curse word being used).
Curse words, on the other hand, tend to “tweak” our “civilized sensibilities”. To my mind, curse words play a smaller part than our everyday verbal violence. In certain contexts, curse words don’t offend me at all, and sometimes actually energize me, speaking to that rebellious part of myself that I still value. Rebelling against all kinds of injustice, etc. But clearly we don’t all “hear” language the same. I do appreciate the distinction that you, Anita, made about the f word and the mf word being “not so much “offensive” as in “impolite”, but offensive as in “aggressive,” especially against women”. And “that [you] can’t disassociate these particular strong words from what [you] assume is their origin in the language”. Yours and Judy’s reasons are important to consider, that words can carry a strongly negative charge for people. I have to ask myself then, is it really necessary for me to use them? Can I speak boldly without saying them? Can I tap my inner rebel without writing them? I’m grateful to each of you for taking the time to write your thoughts on the subject, and help me clarify my own, and raise new questions to contemplate. Isn’t that what a good conversation does?