Reprinted from the Hawaii Reporter
Hawaii's Verbal Weapons of Mass Destruction
By Daniel P. de Gracia, II, 12/14/2007 9:00:46 AM
We've all heard the children's rhyme before: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I wish they'd pull that rhyme from our schools and stop teaching it, because most psychologists will tell you the contrary is true: words do hurt, just as surely as fire will burn, knives will cut, and hammers will break the body. Unlike a bruise from a fist or a welt from a slap which quickly heals, words enter the mind and affect cognitive processes.
Man's most powerful weapon is found not in the ICBM silos, nor hanging in the belly of a jet bomber, but situated right below his nose and squarely on his face: the mouth. With words politicians and priests send whole nations to war, with words treaties and contracts are framed, with words laws are made, and with words, hate is tempered in the furnace of the heart.
Words are powerful, and I write these things to you because here in Hawaii, we ought not think for one moment that using racial slurs against one other is acceptable, tolerable, or permissible in any way. We shouldn't tolerate the existence of racial slurs in Hawaii any more than we'd tolerate the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Iran, or North Korea.
Daniel Paul de Gracia, II, is a political scientist specializing in international relations, a pastor at the International Christian Church and Bible School in Honolulu, and a former candidate for state Representative. He lives in Waipahu.
Labels: The power of words Dept.