How do you feel when you hear someone use the 'R' word?
You know how your entire perspective on life changes when you become a parent? And how that sea change extends to even the most seemingly trivial of things, like ... words? For example, I'm not the most politically correct person in the world, but I'll never forget the way my blood ran cold when a young woman who happened to be ringing up my purchases at the store looked at my then-3-month-old (half-Korean) daughter and made a remark about her adorably "Chinky" eyes. I'm sorry, whaaaa?!
Point is, having kids makes us more sensitive, more aware, to terms we may have once brushed off as "harmless." That's what happened to Robb Scott when his son was born with Down syndrome -- he realized that the word "retard" was not, in fact, the throwaway insult he once tossed around "obliviously."
Now Scott has created a spoken word video both to chronicle his personal growth and reach out to other parents who may or may not understand that "words aren't afterthoughts/they're weapons, used for good or not":
Powerful, right? Faced with this intensely emotional plea, I have to confess, I'm definitely someone who has used the word "retard" unthinkingly -- never in reference to an actual person with Down syndrome, of course, but that hardly matters. And while part of me believes that words only have the power we give them (which is why I don't freak out when my kids swear in private -- it's all semantics, isn't it?), to use a word like "retard" is hardly worth it when the potential for harm and hurt is so great. So this video is a welcome and necessary reminder, I think, to all of us -- we must choose our words wisely, particularly when the feelings of children are at stake.
Do you ever use the "R" word without thinking?