Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. No statement was ever further from the truth than that one. Words can be more damaging than a dagger, scarring the soul with as much damage as a public stoning. I realize I’m a sensitive soul but in this past year, I’ve been lashed out at by family members for no other reason than their high stress level or their disgruntlement at something that had nothing to do with me. They got over it quickly since they unleashed their irritations at once but it left me with wounds that have taken a bit longer to heal. I realize we now live in a world of “get a thick skin” and a “deal with it” attitude where discourtesy abounds but there really is no excuse for bad behaviour and no amounts of sorry’s can make up for lashing out and losing your temper. We are responsible for what comes out of our mouths and for our behaviour. Why is it that we are reserved and kind to strangers but we think we can treat the ones closest to us any way we choose? I’m not perfect and I too am guilty of this abhorrent practice. Even if we are forgiven and we forgive, something changes in our relationship with the lasher, like the changes a drop of water makes when it ripples in a pond. Sure the water settles after awhile but something has been altered. Perhaps we don’t respond as readily to emails or we don’t visit as much, perhaps we walk on eggshells and would rather not be around the person as often as we might have. Perhaps we bottle it in until one day we explode and become the lasher. It’s become the new thing to say what we please, to get it all out. Well here’s a newsflash. It takes more courage, strength and dignity to be patient, courteous, gracious, kind and peaceful. Plus it’s the right thing to do. And it’s never okay to take out our frustrations on others, especially in front of other people, especially when it’s not warranted. Words are damaging. Hold your tongue. ‘Sorry’ doesn’t give you the license to do as you please.
It’s hard to give up things we love or feel we need, especially when those things are deeply entrenched in our culture. But sometimes we have to because those things are not good for us and perhaps no longer serves society. America has to let go of its gun culture and the right to bear arms. At one time, this may have served people well, but it obviously doesn’t anymore. I don’t want to simplify the horror of the slaughter at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and I know it could happen even in places where guns are illegal. But it’s much more likely to happen when guns are legal. The killer’s mother was a gun enthusiast. Her home was loaded with weapons. People are saying it’s not only about guns. It’s about mental health. It could very well be but if there were no guns available to this young man, then maybe he wouldn’t have been able to harm 25 innocent children and one young teacher. Didn’t this just happen the other day in a movie theatre where Batman was showing? How many more times does it have to happen before the laws change? Next time it might very well be one hundred children. I know many Americans love their guns and it’s hard to give up what we think we need. I imagine it feeling like someone telling Canadians to give up hockey or for Jamaicans to give up jerk chicken and reggae music. It would be strange. But if South Africa gave up apartheid and East Germany gave up communism, and certain societies a long time ago gave up slavery, then I believe America can give up their gun culture. Unfortunately it usually takes the suffering or death of a lot of people before anything actually changes.