Years ago, I sat my younger brother down next to me on the sofa.
“I need you to listen to what I have to say, ” I began. He nodded with an expression of knowing this was serious. “I never want to hear you say the F-word.” I paused. I had never heard him say a bad word of any kind, but I knew he was in his teens and I simply wanted to clarify.
“I believe that the words we speak represent the person we are and that our words reveal our character. And I don’t want you to use the same language as rapists do. When he is in the act of his crime, what word or language do you think he uses? You think he says “intercourse?” I want you to be nothing like those horrible people.” My brother looked pretty shocked and perhaps my statement was quite harsh and thick, but this is my opinion.
After thinking a moment, he then replied, “Just because I say a bad word or even if I have the same teeshirt, it doesn’t mean I am like that.” Slowly I said, “Again, the words we use reveal our insides. Someone who is angry and saying the F-word doesn’t sound pleasant. And to use it casually doesn’t make much sense. Do bear in mind of those around you as well. Words can trigger horrible memories and you won’t know the emotional damage it causes her -or him- when reminded. Do you not agree it is better to simply be a pleasant person and use good language then?” He nodded. None of us are strangers to tragic events in our lives.
Years have gone, and he is no longer a teenager. I have never heard him say the F-word. I do not ask if he ever uses it, but I am glad he respects me enough to not use it around me.
I love you Ben.