Have you ever thought about how the words you use impact other people?
This summer I visited the Statue of Liberty for the first time ever. I’d been on a ferry ride the summer before and passed by her, but experiencing her up close was incredible! Being on Liberty Island was like getting a HUGE diversity-filled hug. I saw people of all colors, in different types of dress, and speaking many languages. It was almost like Lady Liberty was telling me, “Liv, this is what love looks like. Love is every color. Love is in every language. Love lives in your words.”
My heart needed that visit and here’s why. For the last 6 months, I’ve been confused. I want to believe that love is greater than hate. I want to believe that people’s sense of wonder about each other is bigger than their fear. I want to believe the words we say matter in every single way.
It’s scary to see what is happening in my country. It’s more confusing when it seems like words are used carelessly by some leaders. I’ll give you an example. The phrase “on both sides.” If you just read that phrase right here in my blog, you would probably think I was saying something about fairness. But, when that phrase is inserted as an explanation for why people are marching in Charlottesville, VA, and that is a march promoting hate, it doesn’t make any sense to me.
Another example is the slogan: Make America Great Again. If you deleted the word again, it feels like a positive message. But, when you add the word again, it makes the meaning negative. It manipulates how I feel and challenges me to defend why I think America IS great in so many ways.
There are other words, like disaster: “The previous administration was such a DISASTER.” When said with such force, it seems like there wasn’t anything done well in all the years I have lived on this earth. I know that I wasn’t as aware when I was younger, but one thing I do know, I felt like the leader of my country cared about being thoughtful, and especially cared about the kind of world he imagined for kids everywhere.
There can be things that happen to kids that make them grow up faster. I am worried that there will be A LOT of kids who grow up faster in the next four years. They will hear, see, and experience things that make them understand grown up ideas. It’s like being a kid doesn’t matter.
I am too little to think about having a political party. But, I am not too little to know that I want a leader who is about love. I want someone who knows his words sit inside kids’ hearts everywhere.
Sometimes my mum says I might have been born in the wrong time; she says I am like a misfit hippie in the wrong decade. What I know about hippies is that they were filled with love, so maybe she’s right about me. Grown ups everywhere should know how important love is, and they should find ways everyday to show love to one another. They should especially think about how kids are watching, wondering, and learning from their example.
Lately, I have been calling myself a “book activist” when people ask me about my LivBit work. But, recently, I have started to think that maybe I am actually an activist for words everywhere. Like if words could decide how they were put together into phrases and sentences maybe they would tell a different story. Maybe words would feel disappointed in how they are being used.
So, I am Liv. I speak for words everywhere. Words matter. Use them kindly.
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