Archive for Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Remember to watch your words

August 29, 2012

In a book of quotes, I have the following: “in war and peace, men are the same; only their weapons are different.”

I thought about the quote recently sitting in the high school cafeteria, listening to the banquet speaker for the annual Mayor’s Banquet. The power of words: to challenge; soothe; celebrate; disparage; uplift; wound; or heal.

The speaker, Kansas Senator Jerry Moran, said something that stuck in my mind. It was a comment he made about being embarrassed that one of his daughters wanted to be a lawyer; including that she had been accepted into Georgetown Law School. He went on to say that he wondered why anyone would want to be an attorney.

He added that he was proud of his other daughter who was studying vet med at K-State. He talked about other things as well: the virtues of small town life; how important it is to identify people who had made a difference in your life; his retirement wish to be a library trustee.

Prior to his speech, Senator Moran had worked the room, asking people what he should talk about. When he asked me, he may rue the day he did, I told him that what we liked to hear were people’s stories, their narratives; that if he had prepared notes to throw them away and just talk to the audience; let people know who he was.

It was never my intent to back him into saying something he would later regret. Maybe he did speak from prepared notes; I think not. When we talked later, I told him I was offended by his comments about his daughter and about attorneys.

He said that he had meant it as a joke; I told him it wasn’t funny.

I told him that I am an attorney and proud of it. I am proud of the women attorneys in Kansas, who are capable, competent, and compassionate. I also told him that as a father of daughters, he needed to support and celebrate their achievements. When he told me that his wife was an attorney, I told him it was all the more reason to be supportive of women.

I went on to tell him that as a breast cancer survivor, my women attorney friends and colleagues played a vital role in my success. Senator Moran and I went on to discuss medical research, NCI designation for the KU Cancer Center and education. I asked him for his card which he gave me.

There is book: Journeys. On the Road Less Traveled: Kansas Women Attorneys. I will send him the book; trust that he will read it. We are all on this journey together, traveling the same road. We bear responsibility to and for one another. Words are weapons-sword and shield. The use of words is a choice that reflects our underlying beliefs. In the end analysis, what we say is incredibly important.


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