Like most children, when I was growing-up I often heard the repetitive ditty, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” As I grew older, I realized that nothing could be further from the truth. Sometimes this limerick was recited by a child, or a group of children, as a response to another’s taunting. I also remember repeating these words out loud, or in my own head as I reacted to someone’s teasing or antagonistic behavior towards me.
If you’ve ever been hurt by careless words, then you may connect with what was written by King Solomon almost three thousand years ago, “the power of life and death is in the tongue.” Who hasn’t been on the receiving end of unkind words that can crush or kill our spirits and have destructive, long-lasting negative effects?
A great Jewish mystic once said, “When we say something, how we say it, and when we say it, will very much define our humanity.” If we want humankind to increase in kindness, peace, and wisdom, it needs to begin with us. And it’s not only what comes out of our mouths, our written words posted (forever) on the internet are also very powerful and far-reaching. Edifying words can buildup, caustic words can destroy. What used to be digital footprints have now become digital tattoos. You have the power to engrave words of hope on the souls of each person you meet or correspond with. Choose your words wisely.
“Don’t bad-mouth your leaders, not even under your breath, And, don’t abuse your betters, even in the privacy of your home. Loose talk has a way of getting picked up and spread around. Little birds drop the crumbs of your gossip far and wide.” Ecclesiastes 10:20 as