Thursday, August 9, 2007


An article this morning in The State newspaper brought back an encounter from Scotland earlier this summer. The article is about the taunting that redheads receive in England. The discrimination against "gingers" is apparently strong, and some are documented at the web site Red and Proud.

While in Edinburgh I went to the Royal Botanic Gardens one morning, enjoyed the beautiful scenery, and took pictures. As I was leaving and waiting for the bus, I struck up a conversation with Jill. I asked to take a picture of her and she readily obliged.

After the photo I said that I loved her red hair, that both my girls have red in their hair and I love it. She seemed surprised at my comment and said Thank you. Then after a pause she added, "I don't know why people have to say ugly, mean things to people. There's no cause for it, and it hurts." It took me a moment to figure out what Jill was talking about - taunting she'd gotten for her red hair, perhaps as a young girl.

Somewhat stunned by her disclosure, I said something lame like, "I agree with you." Then the bus arrived and I had to quickly say goodby. I rode away wondering about the wounds people carry around, wounds of the heart from both tauntings and careless comments.

As a boy I learned the well-known ditty, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." But we know words do hurt. And mean words striking a tender heart leave lasting pain. May God forgive me for the mean words I've thoughlessly hurled at others. And may I learn to speak words that heal. Bless you, Jill, and all the wonderful "gingers."

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