December 9     

Today's quotation:

The words we choose can build communities, reunite loved ones, and inspire others.  They can be a catalyst for change.  However, our words also have the power to destroy and divide:  they can start a war, reduce a lifelong relationship to a collection of memories, or end a life.

Simon S. Tam

Today's Meditation:

Words.  What an incredibly powerful tool-- or weapon-- we have in the words that we know!  Learning how to use our words effectively, in positive ways, can be one of the best lessons that we'll ever learn, good for us and for the other people in our lives.  Being careless with our words or using them to harm someone else can make us miserable when we're trying to be happy and loving.

The important part of Simon's words are the first four:  "The words we choose."  Our words are our choice, even when we speak quickly without taking time to think-- we choose to speak with little care, in ways that are destructive and harmful.  There really is no denying that, even if we want to rationalize our choices and make excuses for what we've said.

I try very hard to watch my words because I know from experience that I have the potential to hurt other people pretty seriously.  I don't want to do that, and the only way that I can try to make sure that I don't hurt is to watch my words very carefully.  I don't want to be in a situation in which I have to say, "But that's not what I meant," or, "you're taking it all wrong."  I'd rather not have to talk my way out of an awkward situation caused by my poor choice of words.

We think a lot about choices that we make, but we don't seem to think as much about our words being choices.  They are, though, and we really should take care with them.  In fact, I often find that it's better to say absolutely nothing when I feel that I may say something wrong or harmful.  Words can be wonderful allies that can bring about a lot of good, so we don't want to abandon them; we just want to pick them carefully and use them to create and encourage, not destroy and discourage.

Questions to consider:

How do you generally use your words-- in positive or negative ways?

Why is it so easy to use words in negative ways?

What are some positive things that you can say to other people in your life?  What effects might those words have on them?

For further thought:

Our words are energy that has a ripple effect far beyond our imagining.  We must learn the art of communicating so our speech can bring about love, reconciliation, and understanding.  Just as it tastes bitter to utter words that are negative or unkind, it feels wonderful to say something full of understanding and love.

Thich Nhat Hanh
The Art of Living

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