The S Word

When my children were little, there was one word which they knew they were not allowed to say. Upon hearing this word from others outside of the family or within it, they would look at me wide eyed, mouth gaping open in shock and whisper “they said the S-word!” The S-word was stupid.

This word came back on my radar after a recent chat with a group of friends. In the course of the conversation, comment was made that there was very little difference between courage and stupidity.

What?! (Sound of car brakes squealing)

An ocean of difference resides between courage and stupidity, but not being one of those quick on my feet thinkers, I couldn’t articulate why in the moment and stowed the comment away for further reflection. It saddened me though to hear those words used in conjunction with each other and within a group of amazing, courageous women.

The definition of stupid as per Google is “having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense.” The definition of courage is “the ability to do something that frightens one.”

Would you rather be someone who does something unintelligent with courage or would you rather be someone who does something stupid that frightens them? I can see how the definitions could get intertwined.

Admittedly, I speak with bias. Stupid is that word for me. That jarring word conjures up an image of a heart and a small knife…death by a thousand cuts…soul death by a limiting belief.

The oceanic difference between stupid and courage is energy. Words (spoken or unspoken) have energy attached to them, either positive or negative…rarely neutral. Sometimes, we infuse the energy, and sometimes, the word holds the energy already. Word energy manifests through feeling and effect. Courage lifts, stupid puts down. Courage is vulnerable, stupid is small. Courage welcomes the lessons of failure, stupid fears and avoids them. Courage invites company, stupid stands alone in shame.

With time and internet access (that’s what I’m blaming), my children’s height and vocabulary have expanded greatly, and while they humorously enjoy testing out their new definition of the S-word on their poor mother (who feigns wide-eyed shock and mouth gaping…my teens like a little shock value), the original version of the S-word is one they still choose not to use and for that I am grateful.

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