The ‘H’ Word

Many years ago my daughter came home from kindergarten and told me, “Michelle said a bad word at school today.”

“Which one?” I asked.

“The ‘S’ word.”

“Ohhhh.”  Subject matter we don’t want our kids learning in school.  “Do you know what it means?” I asked.

My five year old flashed me an I-wasn’t-born-yesterday look, and said, “It means stupid.”

I heaved a mental sigh of relief, and exercised my Superpower Poker Face to keep from laughing.  “Do the kids say any other bad words?”

My daughter solemnly nodded.  “The ‘H’ word,” she said.

“Help me remember what that stands for.”

“Hate,” she told me.


I was a storyteller long before I had kids, and I understood the power of words. That didn’t prevent me from indulging in colorful language, mostly offstage. But after my children were born, just as I saw the world anew through my children’s wondering eyes, I listened through their innocent ears.  I saw how words loaded with negativity seep into the consciousness like toxins into groundwater.


I determined to turn all my verbal toads and snakes into rubies and pearls.  At our house, everyone was encouraged to speak their minds, using language constructively, not to hurt or humiliate.


When my little innocents first toyed with the word ‘hate,’ I explained that some words aren’t naughty but are powerful, and must be saved for emergencies or they lose their power.  Just like with TV violence or antibiotics, excessive use results in an unhealthy immunity.  Hate was a word rarely heard in our house.  But since the election, that and many other ‘H’ words have come into common usage all over America.

H is for Harassment.


H is for Homophobic.


H is for Hitler, for Holocaust, for He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, that Haughty Hot-Tempered Hypocrite who is Hijacking our Homeland to Hell in a Hand-basket.


A great man once said that a house divided cannot stand.  Inciting fear and hatred is the traditional means of dividing a people and strengthening a power base.  Every day the Republicans implement new policies legalizing the persecution and diminishing the rights of people based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, and socio-economic status.

H is also for heartsick, which is how the majority of US citizens feels as American ideals and constitutional rights are trampled and tossed aside.  So last January 21st, here in Seattle, in solidarity with people throughout America, and on every continent–even Antarctica–we donned our pussy hats and marched.


It buoys the spirits to walk shoulder to shoulder with 135,000 like-hearted people…


…in a crowd stretching farther than the eye can see.


People protested against the Republican threat to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and equal justice for all.


Even those who had never been politically active took to the streets.


These were people who weren’t afraid to speak up and speak out.


People who cared about the greater good.


People for whom the ‘H’ word is Hope.






H is also for hero…

…and heroine.


H is for happening, for hookup, for hive and home and herd.


 For heart.


For helping hands.




H is for holdfast.


H is also for humanity and high ground.  And that’s why and where we’ll take our stand.


All words and images copyright 2017 Naomi Baltuck



  1. How about H is also for Hope. We’ve got to have it and work for it.

  2. scillagrace says:

    And, I might add, for Honesty and Humility when Hubris threatens our planet’s downfall. 😉 I love your picture books, Naomi!

    1. Oh, yes, two qualities that are conspicuously absent in this nation’s administration. Thanks for the kind word, Priscilla!

  3. Thank you for this, Naomi. The daily gong show makes me heartsick, but I refuse to give in to it.

    1. Thanks for the visit, Cathryn. We dare not give in. Look what at all the harm they are doing when we resist tooth and nail? Now they are planning to dissolve the Environmental Protection Agency! How can they even think of such a thing?

  4. Carol says:

    Your words are wise, as they always are. Although I find myself often in a dither, I cannot not pay attention and I cannot not speak out. Just as I cannot understand what I see as stupidity and insanity, this backwards slope we’re on.

    1. Dear Carol,
      I would be lying if I said I didn’t sometimes myself spluttering the less generous ‘H’ words, as I learn about each new act of destruction by the Republicans, who seem set upon dismantling every safeguard and protection our parents and grandparents worked so hard to establish for us, often at great cost. Thom and I rally and march and have begun serving on Action Coalitions to do what we can to preserve and protect the rights of those who are being marginalized by this administration and the Republicans in majority. That is one good thing that has come of this inhumanity and insanity–it has had a galvanizing effect which is turning the silent majority into the defiant majority. It is a wonderful thing that you cannot not speak out, dear friend! That is our job now, to provide a voice of sanity and compassion and to do our best to keep this nation’s conscience alive.
      Take good care of yourself, and give the girls a hug for me!

  5. Hallelujah! Another H word to add to the collection. 🙂

  6. Meg says:

    Inspiring and perceptive post. I shake my head every time I see the News. Jings! you write well. I’m right behind you. The photos made me feel I was there walking with you. As they say here in Oz “Good on you!” Love Meg

    1. Thanks, Meg. I always feel your presence, and especially at moments like this, when we are working and walking shoulder to shoulder. You would have loved the LGBTQ rally in Edmonds last Saturday! But that’s another post. It’s what we have to do to keep from shaking our heads and crawling under the covers. Hope all is well Down Under. Love you and miss you! Naomi

  7. Great reminder Naomi—and let’s keep trying for those rubies and pearls!

    1. Thanks, Suzanne. I hope you and the guys are well!

    1. Hi Judith,
      Thanks for the visit and the kind word!

  8. I’ve also become super aware of the language I use, it’s up to me to not stoop to using the same hurtful language. That’s really hard, it’s a huge challenge!

    1. Yes, becoming mindful of the language is so important. Sometimes people aren’t even aware that phrases we use are hurtful and based on offensive stereotypes. Most people who say they’ve been ‘gypped’ would be horrified and embarrassed to know that the expression is based on a cruel stereotype of the Roma (or gypsies) as cheaters. ‘Indian-giver’ is another ugly expression based on an incorrect stereotype, as is “Scot-free.” I have actually heard people use the ugly expression ‘to Jew someone down’ as a substitute for bargaining. I think of it as a kindness to the speaker to make them aware of these things when I hear it.

  9. Naomi, what a marvelously touching story in text and pictures!

  10. This is a fabulous post, Naomi. Do we need to be reminded? Sometimes, to hold fast and together. Though I’m on the other side of your border, I shake in my boots. United we stand; divided we fall. ❤ ❤

    1. Dear Tess,

      I have Canadian friends in British Columbia who are terrified, as well they might be with such a loose cannon in the White House. It is so disheartening to see civil rights, social security, and environmental protections that took decades to build and defend destroyed and discarded in a week. It is not just the administration, but the Republicans, who are acting like thugs in a jewelry store, hurriedly filling their pockets with everything they can get–quick–before someone catches on to what they are doing. As you say, united we stand, and stand up we must!

  11. Pat says:

    Thanks for using your great story-telling skills to write what is on my heart. I am so thankful for social media to help us know that we are not alone. It is so important for all of us to be able to validate our perceptions that what is going on is really evil and destructive of all that is good in the world. If we don’t have that kind of validation we can begin to slip into a submissiveness and fear that bullying can create. BTW – I have heard a lot of naughty words slip into my vocabulary only to then realize that they aren’t naughty at all – they are just naming reality. Sometimes saying “poop” just doesn’t do a pile justice. LOL

  12. Thanks for making me smile, Pat. You are absolutely right; sometimes only the ‘shit’ word will do!

  13. Naomi says:

    Perfect and inspiring.

    1. Thanks, Naomi. It was so inspiring to be in the midst of so very many peaceful demonstrators. I began to cry several times–it was just such relief to know there were that many people who had come together to speak out for freedom, equality, and justice for all. Values that I never thought to see so at risk in this in this country.

  14. Carlos says:

    Great post, Naomi. Keep it up. I didn’t see it, so I would add “Heinous” to your list of words to describe the disease that has fallen upon our country.

    1. A very apt word. Thanks so much for visiting and sharing. Never surrender! Never give up!

    1. Thanks, Maureen! Hope you are well. It’s always good to hear from you.

  15. A brilliant post. This is such a powerful, Naomi. Well said and well done.
    Yikes! To think that he-who-shall-not-be-named (and I’m not talking about Voldermort), is being afforded a State visit to my country soon.

    1. Thank you, Sarah. I can only apologize for the presence of he-who-shall-not-be-named.

  16. Courtney Wooten says:

    Your words speak straight to my soul! I’m so pleased to have met you, Naomi!

    1. Thank you, Courtney! I feel the same way. I left our meeting feeling heartened and hopeful.

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