In church this Sunday, our pastor called on us to rise up. She said that there are many ways to rise up, and of course I believe that taking action is an integral part of rising up.
I also believe that being very thoughtful and aware of our words – choosing which words we use and how we use them – is another way to rise up… because words are things and they have great power.
So, this week, I want to bring two sets of words to the table for us to examine and to consider changing how we use them. I know that you don’t have to agree with me, but please hear me out. If you respond, I will hear you out, too!
The first set of words is the phrase “a servant’s heart.” It sounds lovely. I know that we intend for it to mean “generous, putting other’s needs before our own, choosing to be of service” which is absolutely admirable. But the word “servant” is steeped in a history of classism, racism, and sexism. Think about it – who have the servants been? How were they treated? How did they feel about the world, their choices and themselves? Servants, serfs, and slaves. Why keep using words that have so much misery and injustice attached? I believe that words not only have power, they also have energy. I don’t want to keep dragging the energy of injustice along into the present and the future. I’d like to just choose new words that actually carry the energy of choice and love and empowerment. There are many alternatives, but the simplest to me is “a giving heart.”
The second thing that jumped out at me is the fact that we refer to America as she/her. These past couple of weeks have been really, really hard on the soul with so much gun violence. I wept, along with so many people, at the senseless loss of life. I raged along with so many people – especially women, who can’t understand how anyone could oppose gun reform. I encountered the poem “America is a Gun” many times. And as we sang “America the Beautiful” in church for Memorial Day, I realized that if America were really a she, she would be a fierce mama bear and shut down the gun lobbies and really drive laws and policy changes. So, until that happens, I can’t in good conscience call America by feminine pronouns.
But when it does happen, and I believe it will, I will be so proud and happy to sing her beautiful praises.
In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!
I have room for a couple of one-on-one clients right now. Send me an email if you’d like to talk: email@example.com