Vocabulary

When I was eight years old I learned about Emmanuel Jacques and that children weren’t safe. I added a new word to my vocabulary: molested.

That same year I was serving coffee in my parents’ diner after school and asked a customer what the numbers tattooed on his forearm meant. I added a new word to my vocabulary: holocaust.

A young family was moving in on our street and the neighbours were talking about starting a petition to block the sale of the house to them. I added a new word to my vocabulary: racism.

I asked my dad why he didn’t sign the petition. He said that he wouldn’t participate in ostracizing anyone because he understood how that family would feel. I added a new word to my vocabulary: immigrant.

And one night my mom’s friend called and asked my dad to go over there to try to calm her husband down. I added two words to my vocabulary: alcoholism and abuse.

Sometimes innocence is lost at once but for many of us it’s lost in increments as we add new words to our world.

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