Rachel Beck shares her thoughts on the importance of words, and how they create the life and world we want.
Words are everything. Everything you say, your writing, your speaking has consequences. We all have a filter from our brain to our mouth, whether we choose to use it or not. Everything we say impacts another human being’s life. I’m not one of those people who say ‘hurt people’, that’s not a category I fall into.
I think we’re responsible for the things we say, what we write, what we do, even our body language. I’ve been a victim of bullying, the victim of being called some of the worst names in the world, so I choose not to treat people that way. I’ve been on the other side of it from complete strangers.
We can do a switch every day. How do we want to be remembered? I don’t want people to say “she hurt my feelings.” Now, of course people do that, but they’ll say she didn’t go out of her way to do it. I’m not one of those people who believes everything is forgivable. I think once the damage is done, you’ve said something so horrible, you could say you’re sorry, but you could have prevented it in the first place with the words you choose.
When I hear "I can’t" I think I can. There are people still telling me that. When I hear "I shouldn’t", I think I should. I played sports all my life, and some of my best lessons came from my coaches, telling me I should, and so forth. When I hear, "I hate it when…" a lot comes into my mind: racism, unnecessary hate. I hate that some people want to dominate others. There’s no reason for that, ever.
I don’t think anyone should ever be a victim. I hate it that I’ve heard I should leave this country, when members of my own family have served this country. I hate it as a minority American woman that when I get up every day I have to give 200%, when others have to give only 100% because some have already made an assumption about me.
When I hear code words, like people want to say (The) N word or mention a dog. If it’s about Jewish people, there are comments about money. It’s not just code words; it’s body language, like a tilt of the head, and words as well, like 'Oh, honey, are you sure you can afford to shop here "? Or the vague comment about your kind. Or they might say ‘would you mind waiting in the front of the restaurant?’ versus coming inside. My reaction is for safety first, then I’ll spend my money somewhere else! There’s a look, you know? There’s a look they use.
I created my show because I’m looking for leaders. I look for them every day, people who need to be out in the world. I was told that if the ladder was given to you, you need to pass it down to the next kind soul. That’s what we need to blanket the world with. The other side is organized. We need to organize all the kind people. As a minority American, she’s heard and witnessed how words can be used to harm and to heal.
Rachel Beck is the author of Finding Your Way When Life Changes Your Plans: A Memoir of Adoption, Loss of Motherhood and Remembering Home.
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