There is a scripture the says “life and death is in the power of the tongue.” In the Hebrew Bible, there are so many poems related to what one says and how what comes out impacts so many lives.
I am a writer. We live and breathe on the words that swirl around in our minds that eventually make it to the end of our pen on paper or fingers on a keyboard.
We all want to persuade, encourage, motivate, and call people to action of some sort. To make an impact is the goal of every writer of every genre, to be remembered is even better.
The other day, I wrote about how I was getting a divorce from social media and after the official Twitter take over yesterday, it looks like that separation will be not just on Facebook.
Over the past decade that I’ve used what I called the virtual picket fence, I’ve noticed the severe lack of civility that comes with the anonymity of the keys.
People don’t really know each other that if they posted and then ran into them at the coffee shop or the grocery store, wouldn’t necessarily know that is them by their Twitter handle or Facebook name. Granted, one is supposed to use their real identity, but with the influx of the bots during the last three Presidents, we have seen that the space once created for connection has become more for contention.
Sipping coffee this morning and reading the New York Times - virtually, of course, who still has the daily paper delivered - I saw the breaking news about Paul Pelosi, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s husband being attacked in his San Francisco home.
The first thing I said to my husband was, “these people are crazy.” I amended that to they are dangerous and acting with the lack of critical thinking skills that has also been a result of the way the country has dumbed down education, making it something to ban and dilute, making robotic creatures out of the regimented day, instead of people who examine and ask questions of what they read.
I pondered how much of it was also the result of the one I called the orange menace. He was definitely a master manipulator who could twist words and incited people to action based on what spewed from his mouth. Regardless of political ideology, the rhetoric has been dangerous for the lives of so many people.
That is the premise of that scripture. Like flaming arrows and darts, the words being used by him and others during this election season are like missiles launched out that will always hit a target. We just saw one -famous for his intentional disregard for decorum-singer get completely cancelled for his rhetoric that was finally the last straw of what the media folks would tolerate, no longer seeing dollar signs in his demeaning of entire people groups for year, they finally pulled the contracts, but the damage had been done.
One can heal from a knife wound or even a gun shot, but it takes so much longer to heal from words seared into the soul, that shatter the heart, and that destroy possibilities.
Silence is as loud as saying something to quiet the dragons of fire. Silence is consent as they say and it is not safety.
People are not powerless to act, though.
There are things we can do to protect ourselves.
For me, I have distanced myself from people and those whose rhetoric is divisive and harmful. I’m an Empath and I know that I feel deeply what is said to me.
For others, it may simply be perfecting the comeback, the dozens as we used to say growing up in the Black community. We sharpened our iron and our emotions to not jump because someone insulted us, it developed self control. Yet, it was still hurtful, I still remember being dubbed Toni Bony Baloney.
There is no escaping the tongue.
It truly is everywhere, only those who have a hermit life can get away from it and even then, the tentacles of the media, of social rhetoric has reached.
So what do we do?
Love is a greater weapon than hate.
Reading broadly is more powerful than simply taking what someone says at face value.
Meditation and shoring up oneself spiritually - of whatever faith you believe - will strengthen your inner person to let it fall off your back.
Writing. For me and all that I have lived through in this life, writing it in my journal has helped me process it and literally get it out of my heart. Not everything is for public consumption and my kids have strict orders to destroy some of them upon my death, but knowing that I gave validation to what happened, was enough for me.
There is power in words and in good words there is power in protecting the rights to our thoughts, to learning, to engaging, and to making a true difference in this society.
For all our sakes, I hope we choose to do good.
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The writer is musing with a lavender latte snuggled under warm blankets taking in the end of October.