A Different Perspective

Different or Special? What’s the big deal?


Whats the difference

I saw this picture today on a website, and it made me think.  I am a Social Worker, and I learnt a lot about anti-discriminatory practice and anti-oppressive practice while studying for my degree.  I also did two and a half placements in mental health, and worked at a home for adults living with Cerebral Palsy for the duration of my study.

I am very aware of the importance of words.  Being a writer myself, I know that words have strong meaning, and they can be very oppressive, empowering or liberating.  However, I have always had it at the back of my mind that sometimes when we discard certain words and replace them for more refined words, we really haven’t actually improved anything for anyone!  Sometimes, it’s really just very confusing!

A lot of the time, I personally feel it is political correctness gone mad!  For instance, I wonder how many people would prefer to be called “special” instead of “different”?  When you say someone is “special”, that can also be condescending, in a “Daddy’s little princess” sort of way.  Or maybe, they are far above the rest of us, needing special attention and care.  Difference is actually a positive word, because WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT!  No two people are the same.  The word I’d prefer to use is UNIQUE, not special.

I don’t know if I’m touching on anybody’s nerves here, but this sort of thing gets on my nerves.  Yes, we must keep learning and becoming less oppressive with our words, but what I’ve also noticed is that some old discarded words come back in style…  E.g. there are quite a lot of African-Americans that prefer to be called Coloured than Black.  So really, are the changes in words making that big a difference to the real issues at hand?

Let me know what you think in the comments section.  I am willing to be corrected.

Photo credit: http://www.catchsmile.com

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13 replies »

  1. Hmmmmm..Very true the use of words are indeed powerful. But it also depends on the writer and what message is he/she is trying pass across.. Could it be a contextual statement? The expression on that pics shows a little girl who could be any other kid but have a strong conviction about herself….I would term it as been “Humble but Firm”in her statement………………Also in the message you mentioned “Difference” and” Different”….. They might not necessarily mean the same as used in the statement…..My opinion

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I guess our individual preferences for “Unique” or “special” would depend on the memories that well up in us when we hear each word.

    If when a word is used to describe us, negative events take place, it would be only normal for us to dislike such a word. Vice versa.

    That’s what I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Written just as spoken words differ based on the thoughts and interpretation of the writer himself,sometimes,we need to see things from the perspective of the other person,otherwise we get it all wrong and fragmented,we form our own opinion and may never ever get the whole picture. At some other time,we muSt painstakingly read and meditate before we can even get close. Contemporary issues will always remain so and open for debates.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. i feel the use of special means…. they have special needs not like every other child…………… i think at the end of the day it comes down to how they are being treated, they can use the special and yet treat the child like trash “pls excuse my language” and you can use the word different but treat the child like a princess and build up the child’s esteem…………………

    for me i think the most important thing is that instead of focusing on the word to describe a child with special needs, focus on how to build the child’s esteem……. my one kobo thoughts…….. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Word meanings change over time and with use. What is politically correct today will be politically incorrect tomorrow, if for no other reason other than it was used to be politically correct at present. There is no best way to say the uncomfortable and point out differences. Maybe there is some understanding to be gleaned in all of this. Perhaps we are all fundamentally the same in our own unique ways and just want to be accepted as such.
    Thanks for sharing. This is good discussion material.

    Liked by 1 person

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