Food for Thought

Silhouettes of workers in the mine.

I was in a discussion meeting, and one of the topics was about miners, mines, and their future. In a comment, one member called the miners “stupid.” It troubled me deeply, and I felt I had to know more about miners and what might have caused such a harsh statement. I started my little research right there on the spot (was there life before Google?)

What I learned is that miners are thoroughly trained by the mines, because it is a hazardous job having a high rate of fatalities. Nevertheless, in many families, it is traditional to become a miner, and there is a great deal of pride. I felt compelled to tell the group that I do not believe we should call anyone, or any group “stupid,” which implies that there is little hope for betterment. I explained that I prefer uneducated, for example, although in the case of the miners, I do not believe that applies. It is a struggling industry, but not caused by the miners.

Why do I have such a strong opinion about this? Growing up in post-war Germany, there was poverty, and I learned young not to judge by appearances. Lacking education doesn’t make someone stupid; it just makes them less knowledgeable. We may not know why people are where they are, but I feel it is wrong to express a blanket opinion and attach a label to all of them.

I have never looked down on someone. I feel everyone deserves respect. Judging and labeling a whole group of people because of their work and their appearance seems superficial and inappropriate.

The gentleman who made this remark asked me after the meeting for a short personal talk, and it was very enlightening. He admitted that he never thought about the meaning of the word “stupid,” it had just been a mindless word thrown out without considering what impact it could have. We both smiled that it took someone like me, an immigrant, who never met or seen a miner, to point it out. We also dwelled on how often we use words that sting, hurt, or are not what we mean. I know this incident taught me to be more careful in my choice of words. There is always room for learning and growing!

Silvia Coggin, CPC
Author and Founder of




4 Responses to “Food for Thought”

  1. Avatar Sharon Hogan

    I love your blogs, Sylvia! This one really hit home because my uncle was a miner at the open pit mine in Bisbee and my first husband worked for several years in the underground mine in San Manuel. Neither man could be considered “stupid”. Quite the contrary.
    Thank you for reminding all of us the power of our words …. especially words thrown around so casually.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Avatar Silvia Coggin

      Hi Sharon, What a pleasant surprise hearing from you and thanks for reading and enjoying my blogs.How are you Sharon? Words have always played an important role in my life, and as a young student I was very attracted to poetry. I still like it, but don’t write it any longer. I never saw the purpose of being vulgar or insulting.

  2. Avatar Katharine Vuille

    I wish the members in our community could read your blog. This mindset is how they treat renters in our community. It can be anything, but this ease at labeling or disrespecting others to elevate oneself really to me shows how uncomfortable in your own skin you must be. Great blog post.

    • Avatar Silvia Coggin

      Unfortunately this is happening too often. Thanks for reading my blog.


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