Do Your Words Matter?

In class the other day, Jody, the yoga teacher, asked us to say something kind about ourselves to ourselves. As the nine students laid, hearts open in the studio, he spoke over us of the power of the words we say to ourselves and the words we say to others. “Your words matter. Your voice matters.”

Tonight my friend and I were listening to chill music, enjoying the summer twilight. As she scrolled through her news feed, she shook her head, “Have you heard about all these people getting axed because of what they said?”

Currently, I’m on a news fast for my mental well being, so I hadn’t.

She went on to tell me that about some quarterback from a college and professional team took some heat. An NFL coach got canned, and some soccer player’s wife was mentioned for a derogatory remark on the protestors — all of them said something offensive. My friend remarked, “That’s why you can’t say anything. Just yes, or no. Nothing else.”

I thought to myself, “Should some words be heard while others censored?”

I also thought, “Should I risk my words being misconstrued by writing about this?”

I can’t imagine the rage that drives the rioters and the looters, but I can understand the compelling need for justice. After generations of systemic racism, it naturally follows that the pendulum would swing over, taking to task any individual showing any signs of bigotry.

I wonder, though, are we allowing hate and anger to act as the judge and jury on people who may have said something last year, last decade, or 40 years ago? Is it fair and tolerant to bring a day of reckoning to people based only on a snapshot of their lives? People are so much more than a quote taken out of a whole conversation.

Maybe they are bigoted. Maybe they aren’t.

The point is that no one knows another person from a sound bite or a quote taken from a social media post. I feel like the society is on a witch hunt looking for someone to punish. None of us are perfect. If true justice was carried out today, who among us would escape unscathed? None of us. Really. Not one.

Humans are complicated, they are layered, like Ogres.

Maybe people are ogres. We hungrily devour those who’s words and behaviors are incongruent with our own value systems.

During this historical time, do only the words conforming to the standards defined by the angriest, loudest, and most outraged matter? I say no. All of our words matter. Some of us build bridges, while others plant land mines. There are so many people laying mines, spoiling for a fight, arming for a revolt when, in reality, we need more bridge builders and kind, open- hearted peacemakers.

Just For Today
When I catch myself judging someone for not behaving the way I think they should, I will quit. I will remember that I have a choice, will I be a peacemaker or an agitator?

Prayer
Oh God, our hearts are broken. Please help us to see every person the way that you see them. Purify our hearts, Lord, and fill us with a genuine hunger for justice, mercy, and true peace.
Let justice and mercy start with me.

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