Sticks and Stones


We were one of a few black families living in a mostly white neighbourhood in the town of Oakville population 4000 in the early thirty’s.  My parents with their four children had moved there from Toronto when I was four years old.

For the most part we made good friends and did well in school both academically and athletically.   When occasionally a few rather ignorant boys would call us names our parents would remind us; “sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never hurt me”.

However as I got older I began to realize the limitations of that saying and began to rephrase it to “stick and stones only break my bones but names can really hurt me”.  This phrase is a reminder for me to always be respectful  in how I speak to and speak of others.


Bill Clarke, SJ, is a member of the team of spiritual directors at Loyola House of Ignatius Jesuit Centre of Guelph and continues his commitment to L'Arche.

  • Margaret Powell
    Posted at 01:16h, 20 April Reply

    Very true and meaningful rephrasing!

  • Jim Radde
    Posted at 01:47h, 20 April Reply

    Amen, Bill.

  • Peter bisson
    Posted at 08:10h, 20 April Reply

    Thank you Bill!

  • Friederika Priemer
    Posted at 16:08h, 20 April Reply

    You are so right, thank you!

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