Rainbow Fairy

Lesson 1 - Explanation of Verbal Violence

Son: Don't you even care that I'm failing Algebra because you won't buy me a good calculator?
Mom: Of course I care! I just don't think a calculator should cost $75!
Son: Tony has a $75 calculator, and he's getting straight A's.
Mom: Well, Tony's dad is a doctor; he can afford to waste money on expensive toys. I'm not made of cash, you know. Someone has to work to support this family.
Son: How come my calculator is an "expensive toy," but your new jacket isn't?
Mom: My jacket is none of your business. I'm the adult here, and I'll make the financial decisions for the family!
Son: Well, I think you're making pretty lousy ones. And they're making me fail Algebra.
Mom: You're failing Algebra because you won't do your homework! Maybe if you're grounded for two weeks you'll have enough time to concentrate on your school work!

Well, that went poorly. And very likely, neither of those two people had any idea how they wound up in such a bitter argument. Both of them are left feeling angry and misunderstood.

A wizard needs to be aware of his environment-and that includes his social surroundings. A wizard needs to be a good communicator, one who understands what people really mean, and knows how to get his own meanings across to others. He doesn't get stuck in fights (verbal or physical) that he didn't expect, and he doesn't start conflicts by accident, or just to see how much trouble he can stir up.

Son: Don't you even care that I'm failing Algebra because you won't buy me a good calculator?
Mom: Where did you get the idea that I don't care about your grades?
Son: If you did care, you'd get me a calculator that works.
Mom: What kind of calculator do you need?
Son: One of those scientific calculators like Tony has. It does everything! Otherwise I can't do the homework.
Mom: We can't afford a calculator like Tony's right now. Can you work with the scientific calculator on the computer?
Son: I guess so. But that's such a pain.
Mom: I know. But that's what we've got right now. Maybe if I put in a bit of overtime, we'll be able to get it for next semester. Okay?
Son: Okay.

Son is probably not entirely happy with this, either. But the two of them aren't yelling at each other, and the subject of "a better calculator for Algebra" isn't likely to start a screaming match the next time Son brings it up.

Verbal violence is very common in America today; it's not often recognized as a problem, so very few people are looking for solutions to it. Much "schoolyard teasing" is a form of verbal violence, where some kids work to make other kids feel bad about themselves.

The World Verbal Self-Defense League FAQ for Kids talks about what's wrong with this, and what kind of problems can be caused by "just teasing."

Their page about Why You Should Master Verbal Self Defense has a good description of verbal conflict, and why it's important to learn about it. You might think the worst verbal violence is insults, obscenities, and put-downs… but those are crude versions. They're common among children (including teenagers) and people who are so upset they can't think straight, but they aren't the worst or most common attacks. Most verbal attacks are more subtle than that, and aren't as easy to brush aside with, "well, that's just wrong."

Verbal abuse isn't limited by age, race, gender, or social status… some of the worst verbal abusers are people who have no perceived power of their own, so they lash out with their words. Small children are often very adept at this-the four-year-old who says "my REAL Mommy wouldn't MAKE me eat broccoli!" is just as much a verbal attacker as the teacher who says, "Someone who actually WANTED a passing grade wouldn't ALWAYS hand their assignments in LATE."

Just like physical martial arts, a master of verbal self-defense almost never faces direct verbal violence; she's learned to avoid or prevent the situations that cause it. And just like the physical martial arts, a master of it often seems calm, focused, and relaxed, and ready to handle any situation-and these are very much traits a wizard needs to learn.

DISCUSSION FORUM: List at least 3 examples of verbal violence from different movies or TV shows.

Go to Lesson 2

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