In Persian, sometimes curse words are different than other languages. For example, people sometimes refer to another person as an animal. In English you may insult someone by calling them a pig or a donkey, in Persian you can insult people calling them a calf or cow, in addition to pig or donkey.
A principal in a middle school tells this story. He says one day, just few minutes to break time, a gentleman with a nice suit and a very calming tune and behavior walked into my office. He asked to speak with a teacher. He wanted to ask about his child’s behavior and education. I asked him to introduce himself and he replied “I’m the cow, the father of the calf!”
He said the teacher knows him. Tell her I’m the cow, she’ll know!
I was surprised. I told the teacher about this and she was surprised as well. She said maybe he has some kind of psychological disorder. What does he mean? I don’t understand. I asked the teacher to meet the parent and she accepted.
The man greeted the teacher very politely and introduced himself: “I’m the cow.” The teacher greeted him back and replied with a wondering voice: “but…”
The man continued “you know me well, I’m the cow, father of the calf! I’m the father of that girl you called calf yesterday.” The teacher stuttered and said “but, you know…”
The man then started to talk. “You know, maybe my daughter has a problem, and I fully understand that you may get frustrated but wouldn’t it be better to share her problems with me before insulting her? I could help you, even if it’s little, with this problems.” The man and the teacher talked a little more after that.
After their conversation ended, the man handed a business card to the teacher. On it, it was written “Dr. [name]. Professor and Board Member of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences at University of [name]”
Few days later I asked him to speak for us and the teachers and he accepted. He delivered an amazing touching speech.
Violence, unlike what we think, is not just physical. Usually we consider hard physical interaction and sexual assault as violence but the reality is that the domain of violence is too wide and it includes verbal violence as well as many others.
When we insult someone, ridicule a race, mock the believers of some belief, when we accuse someone of something that one is not, when we threaten a person, all of these are acts of violence; the only difference is that verbal violence is without bleeding.
Verbal violence kills people from inside. Have you ever seen someone visit emergency room or go to police because he was bullied or insulted?
Victims of verbal violence don’t have scars on their bodies or a sign or mark that shows they were violated. Violence is first shaped in mind, then transformed into verbals and they eventually form physical violence. It affects mental health as well as physical health.
When a political leader calls its opposition dumb and corrupt, we as their followers are getting ready to walk on them or hit them with our cars. Why? Because we no longer consider them worthy of living. We blame them for everything that is fault and we form violence towards them.
When in a stadium, hundred thousand people shout insults and derogatory phrases at the opponents team, we set the stage for the post-game showdown. We’re forming violence against those people.
When we call the opposition movement the traitors and enemies’ puppets, then the physical removal and physical elimination of the other side will be justified for us, because we formed the violence in our minds before that.
When we call women chicks, the next lane driver an idiot donkey, the customer a fat cow, the student retarded, and regular people dumb, all of these will form violence in our minds which will prepare us for physical violence, from fist fights to sexual assault.
What should we do? I believe the first thing we should do is learn and practice conversational skills. The lack of conversational skill will result in lack of proper communication, because people won’t be able to word what they mean properly, and then they’ll try to communicate aggressively and violently, because the violence is formed in our minds and the blame is on others.
Practicing communication and conversation and practicing to empty our minds and hearts will help us to act more properly and less violently.
Second thing we should do is to repeat with ourselves that killing people is not just stabbing them in heart or firing a bullet at their head. A man or woman whose personality and individuality is broken inside, whose integrity is violated constantly, whose self-consciousness and respect is destroyed won’t have a normal life anymore.
We should remind ourselves that the opposite movement, the opponent team, the believers in something we don’t believe are just human beings like us. They are affected by their environment and they are formed by what they have been in. We should repeat that forming violence against them is not OK.
We should learn to use the word cow for cows only.