Many of my friends have adopted word motivators for themselves for 2018. New year, new encouragement — some words I’ve seen chosen are strong, hope, determination, explore and simplify; these words are meant to inspire change for those who want to better their lives in some way.
For 2018 my word to inspire change in myself, and hopefully in others, is stupid.
Let me explain. Stupid definitely has a negative connotation. Recently while in a community thread on a Mom’s group on Facebook there was a discussion on racism. One of the commenters said she would teach her children that racists are just “stupid morons.’
That comment stopped me in my tracks. Not long ago, in an intellectual disability group online, there was a discussion on the words retarded, moron and stupid and how these terms are overwhelmingly derogatory and hurtful. I know from experience how hearing the term retarded casually thrown around can feel.
Shortly after my daughter was diagnosed with a mild intellectual disability, I was in a salon chair having my hair washed. There was a very loud woman discussing with her beautician how stupid her brother was, how “he’s so retarded.” Now she didn’t really mean he had the disability of a low IQ. No she meant he was impatient and impulsive. I’d wager her brother had a typical intellect, yet he was making bad decisions regardless. I looked up at the woman scrubbing my hair and said, “I doubt this lady has any idea the person next to her overhearing her conversation has a retarded daughter.” I shrugged it off because I knew what she meant, but it still felt awkward.
“That’s retarded.” “That’s gay.” “That’s lame.” “That’s stupid.”
None of these are ok really — not once we reflect on what we really mean to say. When the mom in that Facebook thread referenced people as “stupid morons” she meant racist. My kid may have a low-ish IQ, but that surely doesn’t make her hateful of others.
So when we’re choosing words, let’s chose our words with reflection. Stupid is my word for 2018. As someone who has called many, many situations “stupid” without batting an eye, I’m reevaluating my words, and to do that I’m calling myself out. I will make myself aware of the terms I use. I will do my best to better myself in 2018 through hopefully a lasting habit. I encourage you to reflect and choose your words carefully too.