We’ve all heard them say it. Teachers, parents, any adult too bored or to uncaring to address an issue when they see one. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” A commonly uttered phrase, yet how many people stop to think about its implications? While it’s true that many jibes are made in fun and the recipient may not be significantly adversely affected by it, we seem to forget the ones that battle with anxiety and depression and can be shoved to the brink by a stray cruel comment. School administrators nationwide recite their chant, as if a broken bone could ever hurt more than endless days of terror in the hallways or the loneliness of being an outcast or pariah. As if this specific grouping of words could suddenly fix your entire state of mind and give you an emotional riot shield to protect you from societal torment. As if they understand what it’s like to hold your ground while everyone around you attempts to bury you beneath it. We grow up chanting this to shield ourselves, but depression isn’t something that can be remedied or prevented by the recitation of a childhood verse. How can everyone be so blind that they can’t see the victims of this social injustice every day? In the lunchroom they can be speedily recognized by the barren seats to each side of them. In the hallway you hear no chattering or laughter from them, they hurry to and from each battlefield, each one with its own unique combination of perpetrators who either subject them to direct emotional attack or kill them with their silence. And so I encourage you to start living today like every time you see someone is going to be the last, because you never know when you could make a positive, pivotal change in someone’s life.
By Luke Johnson