"Death and Life are in the power of the tongue.” This quote comes from the book of Proverbs. In today’s world, this quote may have been extended to include: “Death and Life are in the power of the text message or Facebook post.”
People have known for millennia that words are extraordinarily powerful and can permanently hurt another person, if not physically, then emotionally and spiritually. Physical wounds can heal – often emotional wounds are much more difficult to heal.
Words hold such power that Proverbs saw words as holding the very essence of life or death. How much more so, in today’s world through the use of text messaging or posting on the Internet? While we may not be literally using our tongues, our mobile devices become surrogates for our tongues; and, given the infinite distances their words can travel, they possess equal, if not more power, over death and life.
A text message or post can irrevocably damage the reputation of another person or even an institution. The impersonal nature of such an action elevates this emotional violence to a new level that the tongue could not do alone. We have a responsibility to others and to ourselves to guard our tongues and our fingers from speaking or texting “evil.” We need to focus on and nurture life, not death.
Parents: To internalize the Proverbs' message, talk about it with your children and extend it to texting and postings. After the conversation, I invite you to encourage your children, or do it together as a family, to write your own Proverb that expresses the same message. Here’s an example: “My tongue can be as gentle as a lamb or as ferocious as a lion.”