Discipline Can Change Us All

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I believe in holding my tongue. When walking around campus, town or any other public area I often find myself in a crossfire of words and ideals. Words are frequently thrown around as loosely as spare change to a millionaire, with little thought of their repercussions. The issue with being caught in this crossfire is that the meaning of expressions are left to the listeners’ interpretations. My experience at an all boys high school taught me an altered definition of the words gay and fag, and in my mind they were unrelated to actually being homosexual. Through my lack of critical thinking I didn’t grasp the true meaning of those words and developed a habit of using them.

From trouble with the law to fighting on the streets my mouth has managed to get myself in a decent amount of trouble over the years. My diction along with the bad habit of speaking my mind have not only brought a bad image upon myself but have also effected the lives of others.

Like many men of my age I don't have the most noble vocabulary when conversing with my friends; but even with my occasional use foul language I have always seen myself as open minded. Yet I convinced myself that the use of fag, gay and other homophobic sayings were fine to say as long as I didn’t mean any harm. My twisted mind even managed to misinterpret my sociological studies to support my beliefs that my actions were justified. In “fag discourse,” an article by Pascoe describing the evolution of the word fag I learned that the word was being used with a new meaning and therefore thought it meant no harm to use. But little to my knowledge, my conclusions were far from true.

My roommate and I weren't exactly the most quiet people around and shortly after we moved into our new house we attracted the attention of our neighbors. One of them came over to introduce himself. He approached with a smile in and seemed like a really nice guy. As our conversation continued, he explained how he lived with his boyfriend next door. My heart sank as I realized all the things he was hearing right outside his back door. Embarrassed, disappointed, and ashamed of my ignorance and unintended disrespect, I questioned the morals and values I held dear. I knew that I didn't mean any of those things in a negative way towards gays but my neighbors didn’t. Not only were they disrespected though my actions but I had also turned myself into the thing I hate the most, a prejudiced asshole. The moment after he went into his house I had finally realized the power of words. To me those words meant little to nothing but everyday they were causing my neighbors more harm. From then on I vowed to stop saying things that are discriminatory towards people with different backgrounds, sexualities or really any ideal different then my own.

My experiences have lead me to one simple conclusion, discipline. I had very little discipline in my life and never fully grasped the power of my words. I know now that my language affects everyone around me including myself. Discipline allows me to hold my tongue and think about the consequences before I act. Without it my life is nothing but time bomb waiting to blow up in my face.