Most of us are familiar with the idiom ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ and most of us will agree it is untrue. Words hurt. Words can be turned into weapons that pierce hearts, crush dreams and break spirits. I have always been particularly sensitive to how we use words and what compels us to choose one word over another.
If you watch the news or keep up with events online or in print, you will have read or heard a phrase like this a thousand times over ‘he/she was victim of a heinous crime’ and description of said crime. The truth is most of us (if not all of us) have been ‘victims’ of something less-than-desirable through no fault of our own. We have been victims of neglect, absence, abuse, unfairness, misfortune and crime and not because we ‘deserved’ to be victimized but because things happen all the time to the best (and worst) of us. That’s life.
I am one of those people who crave the ‘after story’. I want to know more about said ‘victim’ of wolverine attack, avalanche, burglary, rape, molestation etc. I want to know if you saw the road ahead fork in two. I want to know if you believe in second and third chances. I want to know if you still get up in the morning to shower, brush your teeth and get on with creating your life. I want to know if you hope again, love again and dream again. I want to be inspired and am inspired by people who refuse to be labelled or prescribed to. I am inspired by people who will not be defined by an experience or a poor word but fear for those who continue to play the victim card.
Words can also heal. They have resurrective properties. Someone who has overcome; someone who has fought back; someone who has clawed their way back out and up and resisted is a survivor. I wish more journalists would adopt the word ‘survivor’ and drop the word ‘victim’ when reading the news. I wish more of us realized this world is populated by survivors. Victims are dead.
What word do you find pejorative or inadequate and wish would be dropped from the lexicon?