A person’s words can be life-giving water. . . Proverbs 18:4*
Time for us to become the kind and thoughtful people we are capable of being. Maybe even past time for us to watch our tongues lest someone wash our mouths out with soap.
For many days I sit with my thoughts for potential columns before I write a word. I read, I pray, and I have silent arguments in my head about hard questions. When I ask myself “What if?” before I go to sleep, I often wake up knowing what topic to pursue. This morning I woke up knowing I needed to put aside everything else I was considering and focus on examining and revising our language as a Lenten discipline.
And I knew I was on the right track when after breakfast I found an article titled, The Words That Are In and Out with the Biden Administration. “The President has been clear,” said Jan Psaki, the White House press secretary, “words matter, tone matters and civility matters.”
The article elaborated on that saying: “Allowing the phrase ‘climate change’ gives a green light to government scientists, while banning the use of ‘illegal alien’ can alter the real-life engagements between immigrants and border agents.”
As for myself, I will tag as “junk” and delete every email I receive asking me to “demand” some action. And I will continue and step up a practice I started the day after the end of Trump’s second impeachment trial. I wrote letters, which my husband and I jointly signed, to every Republican Representative and Senator who voted for impeachment and thanked them for having the courage to do so. We also said we hoped that vote signaled their willingness to continue to work across the aisle to accomplish fair legislation for all Americans.
This practice will not stop for us when Lent is over. Instead we will continue it and look for additional ways to use our written and spoken speech to encourage thoughtful rhetoric and discourage cruel, bombastic comments.
While mean comments leave us feeling wounded, we remember words that inspire us, words that call us to be the best that we can be, words that nourish our souls. How will you alter your written and spoken speech to discourage hate, extend thanks, and reflect kindness?
Blessings on your efforts to provide life-giving water for others,
March 1, 2021