“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21
If you’ve ever spent any time in the comment section of a blog or website, you will sadly understand this guy’s description: comment boards on websites are a place where civil discourse goes to die. But that’s not the only place civil conversations die, and I fear that in our current age, we’ve lost the ability to have a respectful exchange of words with anyone we disagree with.
Let me offer up three things to consider:
- Words are not spaghetti.
Sometimes, I’m afraid we treat words like I cook spaghetti. I learned that if you throw spaghetti on the wall and it sticks, then it’s done. I’m afraid we treat words like that, too. We just throw them out randomly and see what sticks. Maybe we don’t think much about what we say, but unlike spaghetti, words always stick and we can’t take them back. We’d like to, but we can’t. And because we can’t, let’s examine everything we write or say and ask ourselves: does that heal or hurt? Does that seek to understand or undermine? Let’s vow to take responsibility for what we say or write.
- Don’t look for the devil where the devil ain’t at.
In other words, when dealing with people who hold different opinions than you, resist the temptation to demonize them. We can thoroughly disagree with another’s views and still value them as a child of God. It doesn’t mean that we compromise our beliefs, but that we are secure enough in our own beliefs that we can see others as people and not as an obstacle that needs to be removed. And who knows, maybe in the process of listening, you will actually learn something. God gave us two ears and only one mouth for a reason. When we take the time to understand each other, we see the humanity we all share.
- Each one of us has the power…
…to change the world for better, or for worse. I was in a dressing room the other day and overheard a conversation between a mother and daughter. The tone of voice and the negative comments this mother was saying to her daughter made me cringe. On the other hand, I was in the park (during our brief warm spell) and watched a dad and son playing catch. The boy was just old enough to hold a glove, and the dad was standing almost on top of him so that the ball would be sure to land in his glove. After a few dropped balls, the father basically plopped the ball into his son’s glove and then exclaimed, “Good job! See, you’re getting better!” Can you imagine the impact of those words on that little boy? It was like putting a positive footprint in the wet cement of his psyche.
Each of us was born with it; our own personal WMD: the human tongue Use it wisely.
As JFK said, “So let us not be blind to our differences but let us also direct our attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. For in the final analysis, our most basic and common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we all are mortal.”