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Word Peace … on the Tip of Your Tongue!

This article originally appeared on PETA Prime.

World peace is always a relevant topic. Recently, however, I realized that I might actually be sabotaging that goal and negatively impacting animals to boot! Let me explain.

Campaigning for the rights of animals for more than 30 years, I thought I’d covered all the bases. As a passionate vegan, I’d rejected furleatherwooldown, and silk. I only purchase cruelty-free cosmetics and household products and have been active in my local animal rights group for years. But there was one thing I wasn’t doing! I came to realize that my vocabulary may be compromising my advocacy!

You’d likely disagree if I suggested that you might be referring to animals disparagingly, but I invite you to see if any of the following phrases ever sneak into your conversations:

  • I can kill two birds with one stone.
  • You can’t beat a dead horse.
  • He’s a dirty dog (or rat).
  • She’s such a fat pig.

I wondered … does the road to a sustainable world peace start by developing and articulating consistent word peace? I would become my first student, and I am currently writing a book about it!

While word peace points out our tendency to use animals to reinforce negative messages about each other, it also creates a linguistic safety net to rescue us from a lifetime of disjointed dialogue-a net that helps to infuse peace into the words we speak.

Compassionate conversation, then, chips away at the wall of desensitization separating us from experiencing a deeper level of compassion and empathy with the world’s animals and, ultimately, with each other.

Some say that when we intentionally speak insensitively, we create a vibrational consequence that affects not just our bodies but also our minds, our hearts, and our very souls. It also impacts those around us, influencing the well-being of everyone we interact with. However-and here’s the newsflash-unintentional utterances do the very same thing. In fact, they may be even more damaging unless we acknowledge a fundamental disconnect between what we truly believe and how poorly we communicate it.

Word peace has a particular message, focusing squarely upon the words we use that impact animals-the innocents with whom we share the planet, who are frequently the most disparaged-and how our careless communication choices may just contribute to that status. Word peace proposes a change … a new and discriminating awareness that will shift the paradigm from distance and disassociation to compassion and connection.

I invite you to join me on an excursion to enlightened expression where dedicated dialogue becomes word peace. Once you start paying attention to your words, you will be amazed at the deep patterns we’ve created that perpetuate verbal violence. You’ll also experience the joy of catching yourself in the act and creating immediate change.

Remember: Our thoughts become our experiences-and our words communicate them.

Daunted?  Don’t be! Word peace is right on the tip of your tongue!

What phrases do you use that need word peace? That book’s not done yet!

Commenting is closed.
  • mishy says:

    How about the phrase I hear in business often, “Like putting lipstick on a pig?”

  • Dave Bernazani says:

    A few other things to put in the book:
    Use “him” or “her”, never “it” when referring to other animals.

    Use the terms “other animal” or “nonhuman animal”. Humans are in fact a species of animal too, but common language use would have us forget that. Never use the phrase “human OR animal”.

    I bet you could write a whole chapter on IDA’s push to eliminate the word “owner” in favor of “guardian”.

  • up2early says:

    Farm Sanctuary’s “Vegan Vittles” cookbook by Joanne Stepaniak was first to make me aware of the how hurtful words can be toward our beasts of burden in 1996.

  • Marlane says:

    The expression I hate is when people exclaim “ANIMALS!” when some horrible act has been committed by HUMANS. It always seems to happen in dialogue in TV dramas which perpetuates the stupid expression. I usually shout at the screen yelling, “yes, they are acting like HUMAN animals as no NON-HUMAN animal would do that!”

  • SonnyKampboul says:

    One thing that we must understand is that MAN invented something we know as “war”. If we as a humanity really want something we strive for it. An example is roads and cities and other things that we use today. What I don’t understand is why can’t we even, with our vast knowledge of things, invent a little thing called peace. It really shocks me and it’s not just peace that we can invent it is understanding. If we open our minds and respect and love one another not as a city, state, country but as a whole I think we could accomplish alot more than we have ever accomplished before. We just need to put aside our differences and see that hey, if we were all skinned alive today no one would know what race, ethinicity nor status we are. We would all be muscle tissue and bones walking along this planet. If we all lived with a veil placed upon our heads we would not have any problems we do today, we would have a harmonious life and we would definitely be living in peace.

  • Tom Jane says:

    Way to approach this World Peace issue from a different angle, I like that. As the saying goes, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat”.

  • Miss Vicky says:

    I haven’t really thought about that, but that’s a great point of view! We shouldn’t view animals as dirty or negative. I will def be more aware of the phrases I use!

  • kathy says:

    20 years ago I wrote a paper on speciesism in our language for an English class in college and the instructor had me read it for the class. One woman was very upset by my paper. (Her paper was on buying an appliance to carve meat.) It seemed others were interested in the topic and it generally had a good reaction. Thanks for bringing this up again. It’s a good reminder.

  • Kalama Halamezad says:

    I’m inherently critical of any effort that thinks we can change the way people think and behave by omitting certain terms from our languages. First, animals are not only used to reinforce negative messages. In fact, animal references can be complementary (i.e. having “cat-like” reflexes, or being a “foxy lady”). Second, unless someone examines the phrases literally, most people don’t even think of animals (or violence against them). The term “fat pig” is more likely to evoke an image of a muumuu-donning, gelatinous old woman cramming cake into her cavernous maw than any vision of an actual pig. If anything, the de facto evidence that these phrases have been totally separated from their literal violent/derogatory meanings is in their nonchalant usage by animal advocates. The negative implications of the phrases are so far removed from their associated meanings that most people don’t even notice. Third, deleting phrases that are derogatory toward animals isn’t going to stop people from mistreating animals any more than making the “Fg” word disappear would end homophobia. If someone is ignorantly anti-anything, they are going to find a way to voice their displeasure, whether they have approved words for usage or not. That said, the only thing that’s actually important is the intended meaning of a phrase. Calling someone a “fat pig” isn’t wrong because it includes the word “pig”. It’s wrong because it’s disrespectful to a person (who one usually knows nothing about). If one person thinks they can put another down like that, than that is a far more grievous violation of this notion of “word peace”. After all, if one’s attitude allows them to persecute other people, then there’s nothing to stop them from persecuting animals.

  • Deborah says:

    I just used the phrase “walking around like a chicken with it’s head cut off” the other day. Wow, I never thought of that, until now. How horrible. I won’t be using these phrases anymore. Thanks for bringing this to light. Yes, daunted, but it’s so important to take these steps to make them become second nature! After all, it’s all worth it in the end. THANK YOU for all you do!

  • dawneakin says:

    I just thought about this the other day. Thank you for posting it. God Bless