Letter for Thursday, July 23, 2020

The power in a choice of words

First, thank you for choosing a photo I submitted, capturing a child who, in his play time, mimics life around him as he observes it.

After seeing him masked up along with his two “buddies,” he responded to my question of what he was doing, saying, “friends have to protect friends, grandma.” I thought the photo really reflected the times we are in.

My comment has to do with the choice of the word “failed” that was interjected by a staff member in that department right under the photo. “The photographer failed to identify the young one…”. The photo was in and of itself enough. It tells the story. The caption is the child’s words, letting us know his caring heart. There was no more information necessary.

If it is your policy to name the person in a photo, a simple email to the photographer requesting this could have happened, but didn’t. I didn’t fail to identify the child, I chose not to identify him, a minor, for safety reasons. His family knows who he is. My friends know who he is. Who he is, is not the point. The photo reflects the meaning. Words carry energy.

“Failed” has a negative feeling tone, as if something was not accomplished after trying, or was neglected. The insertion of that powerful word changed the entire feeling of the sweet photo. It made the child’s mother sad instead of happy, that something wasn’t OK. That certainly was not my intention. We can all learn better choices of words in our communications with each other. Clarify if you are unsure. Practice kindness instead of judgement. The staff member could have chosen to make a fun interjection instead, such as, “I wonder if we’ll ever know who this thoughtful young boy is?” or maybe not interjecting anything at all.

May we all continue to learn.

Sherry Harris, Kalaheo

  1. Paulo July 23, 2020 8:38 am Reply

    Good points. I agree wholeheartedly with you Sherry Harris.

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