Robbie wiped the sweat from his face. The sun beat down on him as he played ball with other fourth-grade boys.
Seth threw the ball to Robbie. A boy on the other team lunged for it, but missed. Robbie dove for the ball and caught it before it hit the ground. The other boy called Robbie a mean name.
“Don’t let him get away with saying that, Robbie,” Seth said.
Robbie ignored the mean name and took his position. Some of the boys snickered.
Robbie couldn’t get the word out of his mind. When his team won the game, he didn’t feel like celebrating with his teammates.
That evening, Robbie told Dad what happened. “Why did he call me that word?” Robbie asked.
“Not everyone believes what we do,” Dad said. “Some people think using words like that makes them seem cool. Words have a lot of power. They can build people up or tear them down.”
“Seth told me not to let the boy get away with saying what he did,” Robbie said.
“What did you do?” Dad asked.
Robbie looked down. “I ignored him and kept playing,” Robbie said.
Dad hugged Robbie. “You did the right thing. I’m proud of you.”
Robbie was happy to hear Dad say that. “I guess you’re right,” Robbie said, smiling. “Words do have a lot of power.”
“I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we [stop] the sounds of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment virtue and effort.” 1
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008)
“The Continuing Pursuit of Truth,” Ensign, Apr. 1986, 2.
Illustration by Mark Robison