R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Aretha Franklin can sing it so much better than me, but it’s a concept we need to internalize to bring our words of passion into words that can elevate the world rather than ones that tear it down. Let’s step it up a notch, people.
Hi, everyone. I’m Kris Spisak. I’m an author and an editor, and today, I have something to say.
At different points in world history, the writers among us have picked up our quills, our papyrus, our scrolls, our pens, and our keyboards, because something needs to be said. But you know what’s awesome about this moment in history? We are all writers.
Let that sink in for a moment.
We write notes to our kids, emails, social media posts… We do so much more writing than at any other time in the history of the world, so we need to take advantage of that and focus on respect.
Aretha Franklin sang “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” and, you know what, she can do that so much better than me. But we need to take that message to heart. Communicate with respect. We’ve been a bit reckless lately.
When it comes to your actions, your momma taught you so much better than what I’m seeing in the world lately. And if she didn’t, it’s time to step it up a notch. But right now, I’m talking about simply about words.
You don’t talk to your boss like that, do you? Your neighbors? Your kids? No! You know what respect is. High five!
But, if you know what respect is, why are words crumbling to the ground right now? You can do better.
If you are unfazed by all of the hatred in the world today, open up your eyes. It is not good for any of us. No one is winning with hatred.
Anger needs to be redirected into passion; passion needs to be redirected into action–whether you’re writing a manifesto, the next great American novel, that next social media post, or you’re putting your boots to the ground becoming the change you want to see in the world. This is a familiar concept, but right now, it’s going past a lot of people.
Sure, words themselves are admittedly not always nice to one another. This is where the editor in me thinks of a word like “go” that hijacked its past tense from a whole other word, and that’s why “go” and “went” have nothing in common with each other. But we’re not talking about words and editing today.
Whether it’s a discussion of fewer votes, whose fantasy football quarterback is better, or who said what to whom and when and how, we need to use our words. This reoccurring use of our words for anger and hatred accomplishes nothing.
When I spend my days as an editor in the trenches, worrying about word choice, grammar, and punctuation, it seems sometimes a bit small. But what could be more important than communicating clearly, concisely, and with respect to make change in the world–be it a little change in your office, a change in your peer group, a change for your family, or a change for the nation?
Use your words like you’ve been told since you were two years old. Use your words, and use them well.
I want to go further than this, but I won’t.
Generations of little girls in the United States have sung Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” at the top of their lungs at sleepovers and at middle school dances. And you know what? If that’s not your childhood, your gender, your cultural heritage, that is okay.
What is important here is that level of respect. What matters is that the words we use elevate our world and make a difference. Our words should be the beginning of a change we want to see. They should not be tearing people or the world apart.
It’s hard. I get that. When we’re angry, when we’re passionate about something, it’s hard not to add ten gazillion exclamation points and emoticons and swear words. I get that.
We have to redirect that energy, turn it into passion not anger, and turn it into action. Communicate with respect. We all have to try.
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