Letters: Language change starts small

Dear Editor,

As I sit here on my patio having a coffee in the early hours of the morning, I am reflecting on world events.

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We are living in turbulent times with racism, COVID-19 and unrest in many different countries. It’s hard not to be cynical and say “the world’s problems cannot be fixed.” But, in fact, change is possible ­— with small but important steps.

I am encouraged when I listen to my daughter and hear her talk about her concerns and her passion for bringing attention to various world issues.

With baby steps, we can tackle and overcome any societal problem. It is possible, but  it takes time and perseverance, as well as long reflection on each of our own daily actions.

For example, one thing I have noticed is that many people, when describing another, will note their race, color or religion.

This seems to happen most often when they disagree with how another person behaves: driving badly, acting pushy, showing no manners.

I believe, people are people.  We are all human, which means imperfect. But why do we refer to a person’s ethnicity when we’re describing their actions?

Maybe changing our wording and not bringing attention to a person’s race is a small step, but it’s worth taking.

Labelling anyone, be it by  their race, religion, disabilities, sexual orientation or social standing, brings a negative undertone to one’s communication.

I am not saying I’m perfect. Nor  am I suggesting everyone consider changing how they communicate. But I feel that as individuals, self reflection is important to help us evaluate and change learned behaviour. And any small step an individual can take towards change will make a world of difference.

For me, I’m going to start  by being more aware of my language and word choices.

What will your one small change be to help make a difference for the better?

With one small step each, we can make big leaps and bounds as a community.

Lisa Cheeseman


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