“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” It’s not true.
Words do hurt. Not because they are words, but because they actually mean something. Imagine going through married life without your spouse ever saying “I love you.” Man as spiritual cannot ignore the immaterial part of a word. Words do not break bones, but they do hurt.
Words can destroy lives. False accusations are not easily brushed aside either by the offended or others. Credibility and honor once lost cannot be regained. Broken bones heal, a shattered integrity does not.
But words are not just a dark power. They are strong, but also for good. We can forget the one who says “I hate you,” but the one who says, “I love you” is always remembered. Even in the simple things a nice word or a “thank you” is all we need to have a good day or to keep us going. A word can change a life.
What does one gain by scorn or a slight? Moreover, they leave us with a bad taste in our mouths. It is a fact of experience. Just think of the last time someone cut you off on the highway and letting some remark out of the window was a temptation too powerful to resist, or consider the sarcastic slur to your wife that you immediately repented of.
On the flip-side a good word multiplies; it helps both. It esteems one person and for the other there is the healthy pride of a good deed done. If you want to be happy, speak well of others. It is a lose-lose or a win-win deal.
In this great balance between raising a person in the eyes of others with the reward of interior peace or hurting someone while not getting anything out of it, is not the first a much better choice? Just try it for one day; it is absolutely free.
Brother Paul Stein studies for the priesthood in Rome.