Mind Your Words

My brain screeches with righteous indignation while my heart burns with empathy in reaction to the careless onslaught of one man’s opinionated insult.  Unfortunately, situations like the following are a reminder that our world teems with bigotry and intolerance.  Under the guise of freedom of speech, bullying appears to continue on the adult playground.

I don’t normally react to current events.  In fact, I avoid the daily barrage of negative news.  With my pessimistic challenges, these stories knock me down a rung on my day’s climb.  The story of a hero came into my internet world though, and I love heroes.

So I was reeled in by the plight of a young lady who was fat shamed on a recent airline flight by a man who texted in clear sight that he was sitting next to a “smelly fatty”.   Fortunately, there was someone who cared enough to notice her sadness, and rescued the situation.  But the damage had been done, both to her and the perpetrator of the text.

As we travel through this commune called life, consideration should be given to how simple words can affect our fellow humans.  It is probable we have all been guilty at one time or another of forming thoughtless words, possibly because a toddler “me-first” attitude remains in the history of our psyches.  Especially within our families, the urge to ‘say it like it is’, as we compose it in our own minds, can unintentionally cause irreparable harm or at the very least, dents in overall confidence.  I’m guilty. 

An old story taken from Cherokee folklore of two wolves comes to mind; I repeat as I recall.

There was a grandfather who was speaking with his grandson about a battle that goes on inside each person’s mind. 

He tells him,“You will find there are two wolves fighting inside all of us.  One has evil qualities, such as anger, envy, pride, superiority, ego…etc.

The other is filled with good qualities like joy, peace, love, humility, kindness…etc.”

The little grandson after thoughtfully considering, asked: “Well, which wolf wins?”

The grandfather answered simply, “the one you feed”.

How does this relate?  It reminds me that at times it’s not easy to choose to respond to the call to love our human neighbors.  It can even represent a battle in our deepest selves. 

Superiority and the ugly actions that follow in words have no place in a world where love for others drives common decency.  Sadly, fertilizing the seeds of the evil wolf’s qualities only causes non-retractive

indiscretions hurting everyone in the process. 

And the lesson that sticks in my mind, while reading about the impact of a seemingly harmless expression of discomfort in a text message, is how our words become our actions when we inflict insults upon others, and how our actions clearly define which wolf we are feeding.

-Erika K Rothwell

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