After a cowardly, despicable and horrific suicide bombing in Manchester, England the other day, in which young women were targeted, our president said this:
“I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term. They would think that’s a great name. I will call them from now on losers, because that’s what they are. They’re losers. And we’ll have more of them. But they’re losers. Just remember that.”
To be clear, any attention I focus on this will not distract me from the other problems of this administration. Russia, Russia, ethics violations, the abysmal and amoral budget proposal, Muslim ban, ICE deportations, Education budget, health care, did I mention Russia, etc.
Trump has also called me a loser, because I voted for Hillary. And Rosie O’Donnell, Cher, George Will (and other journalists and media sources), Karl Rove, Mark Cuban, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio…..the list is long. (Here’s a list from before he was president of all the people he called losers or idiots.)
At the least, equating depraved terrorists with people on the losing side of the democratic process is inadequate, requiring the word “loser” to stretch far beyond it’s meaning. While I’ve given up trying to figure out the mind of Donald Trump, I trust that the rest of us would not equate that terrorist with Cher or Ted Cruz.
In truth, we are all losers, and we should be. When we lose, we learn–about ourselves, about others, about the level of work needed to reach our goals, and the way the world sometimes rewards people who aren’t the ones who work the hardest or who are the most qualified.
I remember the times I have lost in my life.
–At the Spelling Bee, many years in the City Bee (I have always spelled “infallible” and “nougat” correctly since)
–Associated Student Body President in high school, (and plenty of other student elections before that)
–I once was thrilled to lose and finish 10,000-something in a Bloomday 12K race (out of 45,000-some runners and walkers). Total loser. (And I miss my knees).
–so many elections, when my vote was cast for the person who lost
We lose because we extend ourselves and try new things.
We lose because we risk.
We lose because of math–not everyone can win.
We lose because sometimes all of our preparation and work just isn’t enough.
To call terrorists “losers” is both inadequate and inaccurate.
To call everyone else “losers” only reveals a shallow insult and a failure of comprehension about the value of not always coming out on top. Kareem Abdul Jabbar said, “You can’t win unless you learn how to lose”.
Talladega Nights is one of my favorite movies, despite my disregard of NASCAR. Ricky Bobby grows up driven to succeed because his father once told him: “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Of course, he discovers that sometimes you lose anyway.
Later on, he reconnects with his father Reese and this conversation ensues after his dad gets kicked out of Applebees:
A life lived in the pursuit of not being a loser is a sad one indeed.
It’s not the word to use for terror.
The language we use matters. It can inspire us. It can challenge us. It can help us navigate the challenges of our lives.