We all know the saying. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." When did we get to the point where so many grown adults are constantly being hurt, offended, saddened, and angered by words?
It seems crazy to me that every day on Facebook there is a new post of who said what and how it's wrong and how it offended this or that person. Grown adults acting like this. Not children, not toddlers, but grown men and women that hold jobs, have families, own things, or run political offices.
I'm not sure what's worse, the constant onslaught of these posts or the often times un-researched, misunderstood, misguided biased view of the poster. Just today there was a long tirade about how the term "gypsy" is an offensive term and if you use it to describe a yogi with a wanderlust then you're being "casually racist." Good Lord, how did we get here?
Somehow, like we are forgetting the Earth is round, we are forgetting that words can and often do have multiple meanings. Yes, Gypsy can be used to describe a travelling fortune teller from southeast Asia. But there is another officially recognized meaning: "a nomadic or free-spirited person." I'm sorry to burst that person's "woe is me" bubble for the day but yes, gypsy can refer to any person who never stays in one place long, who likes to travel, and is free spirited.
Biscuit means a fluffy pastry in American language but it means a cookie in Europe. They call what we call cigarettes fags. We go on vacation, they go on holiday. These are just a few examples between two dialects of the same language out an absolute limitless number of examples one could dig up...if one were actually inclined to read a book or do a Google search or two before flying off the handle about something.
More importantly to me than the fact that words have multiple meanings is that, at the end of the day the meaning of words or symbols is arbitrary. We hear a word, collectively tell ourselves what it means, positive or negative, and then... allow that word to affect us in that particular way? In a world where mindfulness is growing ever popular we still have a large number of people allowing their personal happiness to be shaken by a word that they hear.
Just remember that Fuck is only a word and it doesn't mean shit in other cultures.