“In the beginning was the word…”~John 1:1, King James Bible
The act of using symbols that represent sounds to create words conveying thoughts and expressing emotions will never cease to amaze me. Here I sit in NJ tapping lettered keys on my laptop that someone in another place will read and perhaps react to. I think and choose each word with care because words are powerful and once said, they can never be recalled. Words can connect or divide, heal or crush, inspire love and gratitude, or incite rage and hatred. What is communicated depends upon my choice of words and their delivery, but also upon the history of the person reading or hearing them. Words are a hook on a line cast into a pool of emotion catching onto past experiences which influence how one translates what is said.
Today, we have “improved” methods of communicating — cell phones, texting, e-mails, instant messages, twitter, blogs — faster yes, but not necessarily better. I witness people expressing every thought with total disregard for context, presentation and consequences. Now that everyone has a forum, it seems we are bombarded with everything on everyone’s mind. Are you someone who speaks his mind, or are you someone who says the first thing that comes to mind? Does anyone have an unexpressed thought today? Do your words matter or is it just time to empty the trash? Do we really need an accounting of a person’s every moment?
Speed, it seems, is the important thing, not what we have to say. We simply can’t express ourselves fast enough, and an entirely new ‘shorthand’ has been created to help pick up the pace. I’ve even witnessed stunted communication style slipping into the corporate world, accompanied by a severely limited vocabulary. Unfortunately, there seems to be no similar limit to foul language, which has lost its intended shock value through constant repetition.
I am frequently appalled at the harsh responses, negative comments, foolishness, and cruel and disrespectful things said online. There is a sense of security in anonymity that seems to bring out the worst in some, but I believe the best way to judge a man’s character is to see how he behaves when he thinks no one is watching.
The ability to communicate is too often taken for granted and abused, not understood as the great gift it is. In imitation of our Creator we can use words to breath life into the dust of times and places that never were or restore life to the long dead; an everyday miracle. Words are like living things in themselves, capable of growing, changing, spreading, and influencing reality in ways both seen and unseen. They are your offering to the world, sent forth to give it shape and meaning. Instead of a carefully prepared gift, too often they’re shoved in a sack, hastily bound in barbed wire, and tossed at strangers from a speeding car.
I wonder what sort of world we are creating for each other with the words we throw. Will it be a world of constant chatter, and mean spirited drivel or one in which we can hear God’s whispers? Choose wisely.