Right after the Boston Marathon bombing I was amazed at how many different theories floated around. Everyone I spoke to presented me with another view of who was behind it all: “It’s April 15, tax day so it’s a protest against the tax system.” “Someone against gun control wants to make a statement that guns aren’t the only thing that can kill people.” “The 2 brothers didn’t do it (even as the evidence mounted my friend kept saying this) it is just a plot to get someone and make the Boston police look good.” “It has something to do with immigration. After all they were immigrants from Chechnya, a rebellious Russian state, so we NEED to tighten immigration laws.” “It’s the devil at work.”

As you can see all of these assumptions have their root in where the person is coming from, what beliefs they hold. Some, like my friend, hold so tight to a theory that they refuse to relinquish it even when the evidence contradicts them. Most of our assumptions are harmless beliefs that don’t hurt anyone. It’s when our inner dialogue of words lets us create stereotypes to act upon, limits our ability to accept change, blocks our ability to see a destructive truth, that it becomes bad. That is when the power of words has the power to hurt, maim, and distance us from what and who we love.

In the April 28th edition of the New Jersey Star-Ledger, E.J. Dionne Jr. addresses this issue of in his article “Culture of Preconception”. He makes some great points as to how the “hyperpolarization of our moment has sped up the rush to (contradictory) judgments, a practice accelerated by new technologies.” With all this instant access to information, he goes on to say “We have less patience than ever with the often painstaking task of gathering facts.” In today’s society, we are bombarded by words but don’t take the time to assess their meaning. I love his ending: “I wish we were better at remembering three words: Stop and think.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s