Respectful relationships…

“More than just words”
*CONVERSATION / guest speaking NOTES including resources (links)
-to share information with others by speaking, writing, moving your body, or using other signals
The way in which we communicate always counts-as does it’s accuracy,clarity and sincerity.Communication underpins trust,respect and loyalty.Compassion and forgiveness rely on communication.Whilst love itself has many languages.
I recently addressed students/staff as a guest speaker sharing a story from 1984 which centered on an inappropriate racially charged comment I made towards an indigenous VFL umpire from the terraces of Windy Hill.
Standing beside my father I let my ‘words’ fly.The crowd happened to become silent in that exact moment.
My words became audible to all about us.
In response my father clipped me firmly across the back of the head with an open hand.A moment of punctuation.My eyes now fixed firmly upon the rubbish at my feet I didn’t look back up until the final siren sounded.
I was 11 years old.Fueled by a want to ‘fit in’ with the crowd about me.
There was no excuse for my ‘words’.
Such behavior was never role-modeled.In fact my parents didn’t highlight race,color,culture,sexuality or socio-economic status,preferring to respect/treat people equally.
It was the only time my father used such discipline.And the only time I made such an error of judgement.
Are slurs and putdowns an act of convenience?
Self loathing?
A want to improve social standing?
Or born of societal frustrations?
Consider the origins of a proverb most if not all have heard,often from our parents or teachers.
(And yet we ALL feel the cut of a sharp tongue)
The proverb “sticks and stones may break my bones” is said to have its initial traces in 1844, in Alexander William Kinglake’s book where it is used as “golden sticks and stones.” Later, it was cited in The Christian Recorder of March published in 1862, where it was stated as; “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me.”
Moab is My Washpot  by Stephen Fry
 “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will always hurt me. Bones mend and became actually stronger in the very place that were broken and where they have knitted up; mental wounds can grind and ooze for decades and be re-opened by the quietest whisper.”
The Book of Sirach is a Jewish work, originally in Hebrew, of ethical teachings, from approximately 200 to 175 BC, attributed to the scribe Ben Sira of Jerusalem It appears to make a diametrically opposite statement: “The blow of a whip raises a welt, but a blow of the tongue crushes the bones.”
Fear and discriminatory behaviors/language often go hand in hand.Often accentuated by environment and role modeling.
What is fear?
Fear is not as automatic as you may think. Fear is part instinct, part learned, part taught. Some fears are instinctive: Pain, for example, causes fear because of its implications for survival. Other fears are learned: We learn to be afraid of certain people, places, or situations because of negative associations and past experiences. Other fears are taught: Cultural norms often dictate whether something should be feared or not. Think, for example, about how certain social groups are feared and persecuted because of a societally-created impression that they are different or present danger.
It’s important ‘we’ pay attention to our language in all environments including when guest speaking…but maybe we need to be particularly mindful in sports oriented settings?
I will forever be grateful to have been exposed to a breadth of extraordinarily creative people-artists-actors-musicians and social commentators (comedians/hosts)
Art –
Andy Warhol
Jean-Michel Basquait
Frida Kahlo
Movies –
The Wanderers 1979
Set in the Bronx in 1963, the film follows a gang of Italian-American teenagers known as the Wanderers and their ongoing power struggles with rival gangs such as the Baldies and the Wongs.
Do the right thing – 1989
In a Brooklyn neighbourhood, the long-simmering racial tensions between diverse communities erupt into brutal violence over the course of a single summer day.
Social commentators –
Eddie Izzard
George Carlin
Stephen Fry
Music –
The Linda Linda’s – Racist sexist boy
You say mean stuff and
You close your mind to things you don’t like
You turn away from what you don’t wanna see
Fugazi – Suggestion
You spent yourself watching me suffer
Suffer your words, suffer your eyes, suffer your hands
Suffer your interpretation of what it is to be a man
Australian musicians also know how to make noise about behaviors/language…
Benjamin Hammond Haggerty, better known by his stage name Macklemore, is an American rapper. The lyrics to his song Same love as as below.Enough said.
Macklemore lyrics – Same love
If I was gay
I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately
“Man that’s gay”
Gets dropped on the daily
We’ve become so numb to what we’re sayin’
Our culture founded from oppression
Yeah, we don’t have acceptance for ’em
Call each other faggots
Behind the keys of a message board
A word routed in hate
Yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender and skin color
Complexion of your pigment
The same fight that lead people to walk-outs and sit-ins
It’s human rights for everybody
There is no difference
Live on! And be yourself!
We can fight within ourselves searching for the ‘right’ words as parents,teachers and/or guest speakers but on this occasion Benjamin Hammond Haggerty hit the nail squarely on the head.It’s just a little sad to know that sometimes we still need to use such a heavy hammer.
**Music is the common denominator.It provides us (as teachers & parents) with immediate cultural cues / fashion cues / language cues and historic reference points.
Music may be a language barometer…starting conversation,promoting thought and defining boundaries.
At the very least music leaves a worthwhile marker in time.
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