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Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Words Do Matter

...From the Heart to Truth
On December 14, I read a post at AW that disturbed me. The poster said she’d done something stupid and she proceeded to call herself a “retard”. I immediately wrote a PM to the poster to inform her that her choice of word usage was considered crude and it would be insulting to our host, Jenna Glatzer. Jenna’s brother, Paul, has Down syndrome. I knew Jenna would be upset when she saw this person's post, but rather than state my thoughts and feelings on the thread, I tried to make the poster aware of the situation in private.

I posted a comment on the thread that stated “I won't begin to list blunders I've made. The board may go down again.

It was my way of trying to show the poster she’d blundered. Mentioning that the board may go down again was an additional hint that the board is Jenna's house, and my disappearing smilie was my way of showing I would disappear if I’d said what she had.

I’m not able to be online as much as I used to be and my attempts to PM the poster failed because her in box was full. I didn’t want to make an issue publicly about her choice of words, for one reason and one reason only: I’m lousy at defending myself, and normally end up in tears by letting others stomp on me and hurt me by their words and actions. I defend by truth, and the truth hurts those who refuse to accept it. I speak truths and stick up for myself and I am ridiculed more because of it. So, I threw in the towel and quit speaking to those who continue to twist my words and judge me simply because the truth hurts them.

Tonight, I feel horrible. Instead of standing up and stating the truth for someone I respect, and responding publicly to something I knew would hurt Jenna, I simply responded with what I thought might get the point across to the poster. I tried to be nice once again, when in my heart I knew I should open my mouth. I let past personal attacks on me, to stick up for the truth, those I respect, and myself, prevent me from pointing out a wrong done to someone I care about.

After logging into AW this evening, I went straight to the freelance forum, where I am moderator. I saw Jenna’s name listed as the last poster on the thread I speak of. My heart sunk knowing that I hadn’t softened the blow for her. When I read Jenna’s comment, I smiled. I clicked on the link she provided and signed her petition and pledge “My Words Matter”.

Words do matter. Regardless of what they are, who they’re about, or the subject at hand, words can hurt. And that is the TRUTH. Please do not use offensive words. Thank you, Jenna for posting your pledge. It reminded me to continue to speak the truth, continue to stand up for those I care about, respect, and love, and continue to stick up for myself. It also reminded me to continue to follow my heart…which strangely enough I’d written about earlier this afternoon. My "Following My Heart" post was inspired by a picture and hurtful words said to me recently. See my post below. ;)

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Make me smile. Leave a comment...

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Blogger April said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you. Even if Jenna or anyone else on the board didn't have a brother/sister etc with a disability, we all need to be more careful with our words. It's kind of like the word "gay." Kids these days say it, but they don't actually use it properly. It's just a descriptive word that makes NO sense. The F word is another. Overused and used improperly.
Don't be shy about telling people when they've used a work inappropriately...I'm sure not anymore. People should be righted, if it is called for...not meanly, of course, but righted all the same.

12/18/2005 10:06 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Thank you for reading, April. There are many words in today's society that are used as synonyms for other words. Some are very hurtful. All we can do is speak up for what we believe. Even if we change only one person's attitude, or at least make them think prior to speaking, we've helped one more person from being hurt by crude words.

12/18/2005 11:12 PM  
Blogger Ray Wong said...

Yes, words do matter, and we as writers should know! Personally, I swear, but only at the right moment to express my feelings and seldom do I use them to demean or hurt someone. Being a racial minority, I know how words such as "chinks" hurt. I try not to let ignorance or a word or two to hurt me, but it's not always easy. But worse, I take offense at the meaning behind these words. It's one thing if someone said the F-word to express some anger, but it's another if someone said "chink" to try to make me feel bad or to show his or her superiority. That I can't stand and I will fight back.

Here's something I try to live by:

People are like walls, and words can puncture those walls easily, and if you punch enough holes, the walls will crumble. And no matter how much you try to patch these walls, the holes will always be there. Don't punch holes in other people's walls.

12/19/2005 4:45 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Thank you, Ray. I like your thoughts and the words you try to live by. Society has crumbled to a certain extent. If each of us try to use more appropriate words when we speak and write, it might help build a better society and crumble the walls of destruction.

12/19/2005 11:58 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

joanne- You're exactly right. Words do matter. They can often be used to hurt or heal. Healing words are better. :)

12/20/2005 10:01 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

You're right, Jeff. Healing words are better! So are hugs. ;) So I'm sending hugs to anyone and everyone who may have been hurt by another's hurtful words. (((HUGS)))

12/20/2005 10:48 PM  
Blogger Frank Baron said...

I'll see that hug and raise you one.



12/22/2005 12:46 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

Joanne, you are so hard on yourself, but it just shows how enormous your heart is and how sincere your soul. I signed the petition as soon as I read about it (since I also haven't been on the board much lately).

You have the bestest of holidays, young lady. :)

12/22/2005 10:18 PM  
Blogger paintbrushpoet said...

I signed as well. Thank You JoAnne for bringing this up. I am in total agreement! Continue to stand up for your truth. It gets easier each time.

12/30/2005 11:41 AM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Thanks for the hug, Frank. You're a dear. And thanks for reading.

Jill, I'm glad you signed Jenna's pledge as well. Great holiday to you, too.

Paint, thanks for reading and signing Jenna's pledge.

Words do matter. With that said, my heartfelt thanks to each and every person who reads my blog and passes the word.

12/30/2005 8:46 PM