Words have a lasting impact



Opinion Columnist Abigail Bennethum reflects on the lasting impact that words have and urges readers to respect each other, regardless of identity.

ABIGAIL BENNETHUM, Opinion Columnist

As a Conservative Christian, I have many reservations about how the rest of this article will play out. Obviously, by my label, many people will have preconceived accusations and opinions of what my opinions and ideas will consist of. Even though my label falls into a category that not many people are particularly attracted to on a liberal arts campus, I feel like it is necessary to speak up about what you believe in. I like to believe that I am more of a “2019” definition of the label where I’m not stuck in my own predispositions of people and controversial subject matters.

A couple of weeks ago, I had to watch a video called “Single Story,” showing how a single story can impact somebody’s life. The woman in the video talked about how we as humans judge without knowing somebody or something, making up our own story about the subject matter and basing our actions off of the story we created in our minds. After watching, I had the not-so-transparent topic of religion on campus pop into my head. The reason I feel motivated to write on the topic of religion on campus is that I have never previously seen anything except politics getting students so riled up until recently. It astounds me how people think that it is their civic duty to step on others religious ideals and spread misinformation around. Now, myself out of anybody understands what having an opinion is, and wanting to be able to express that opinion and thought process.

After watching the “Single Story,” I started thinking of all the negative stigma going around about certain religious groups on campus. I hear assumptions circling around campus, social media and the classrooms about religious groups on our campus and how it is classified as “overbearing and in your face” and “cult-like.” Even though I have made some of those same assumptions in my time here on campus, I truly regret it. I found religion and faith to be something that comes from within, and it can be what brings somebody to change their life completely, or even just gets somebody out of bed in the morning. Having this newfound outlook, I have come to realize that no student is better than any other on this campus, and respect needs to be the main focus of students when on the topic and idea of religion and faith.

Words are powerful. They have moved mountains in history and they will continue to do that for the rest of our lives. What you say matters and it is such an important thing to stand up for what you believe in. When it comes to words and the passion of some individuals, the line of what and what not to say gets a little bit hazy and some tend to go overboard. How you send the message matters. Choice of words matter and how you say those words can carry more than the message itself. I urge you to think of how you want your message to come across the next time you may feel compelled to say something about religion or somebody’s faith here on campus.

All in all, being on campus we have one goal, and that is to get a degree and graduate. Let’s not leave this place feeling attacked or put down for what we believe in. I feel it is necessary to all have respect for one another no matter what we believe in, or identify as, or even what we are studying. We are all people just trying to make it through the day and some of us make it through the day knowing that we have a place to go to and feel at home, a faith we believe in and a religion we want to follow. All in all, I urge you to take a step back, instead of assuming and creating a “Single Story” about somebody or someplace, have a conversation. You never know what you might find out from stopping, listening and thinking.