Growing up, parents and teachers tell children all kinds of sayings and cliches to teach them lessons. Some of the things they say are clever and accurate, and others are neither. I’m sure the intent of some of the sayings are good, but when you embed some of these false sayings into an impressionable child’s head, it may take them some times to unlearn what they are told. And after they realize that they were fed a line of bullshit, they question everything.
“Nobody’s special. Nobody’s perfect. Nobody is better than anyone else, etc.” Those are all sayings that jump out at me immediately. The moral premise of the saying comes from a good place, to teach kids that they shouldn’t act like they’re better than anyone else. But is it true? I don’t think so. I think that someone who helps others less fortunate than they are, and is great to their family, is clearly better than someone who is abusive, or a murderer. I’d have a hard time believing that Charles Manson is just as good of a person as Mother Theresa.
And if nobody’s special, then why the hell was I always told to refer to the mentally handicapped as “special”? Besides, some people are clearly special. Barack Obama is special, because he leads our nation. George W Bush is special, but that’s “special,” so I’m not sure where it falls. The slutty, attractive girls who go to nightclubs and are allowed in before everyone else must be special, right? Why would they be allowed to cut in line if they weren’t? If you take that saying too seriously, you would be considered evil. “Women and children first!” “Why? Fuck them! They’re not special!”
And if nobody’s perfect, then what the hell does practice make? I was always told that practice makes perfect, and then I found out that my goal of perfection was impossible. I suppose “Practice makes you better” doesn’t sound as good. Plus, that would cause a contradiction, because the kid who practices would go around thinking that he’s better than others.
When I really think about it, we should just tell kids “Don’t be an asshole.” Of course, then we’ll have kids who swear, and we just can’t handle that as a nation. But think about it, that’s really the moral of almost everything that we teach children. If you think about manners, not being violent, not being arrogant, and even many of the reasons people install religious beliefs into kids, it’s really all of us trying to teach kids not to be assholes! I’m all for it, I just wish that we could say it. My mother described people with potty mouths best. All she said was “I’m not impressed with foul language.” That’s perfect! She didn’t say that she was offended, just unimpressed. Why should anyone be impressed anyway? They’re just words.
The way I see things, words are just a form of expression. When I have a kid, I very well may tell them “Don’t be an asshole.” I’ll still have to explain to them what makes you an asshole, but at least that way I won’t be lying. Sure, my kids will probably ask if a lot of things would make them an asshole, but that’s fine. After all, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. In a world where people can say what they want, there would be less lies. If words that truly express the message you’re trying to send offend some people, then that’s their problem. It’s like I was told as a kid, “Stick and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Or will they?