Sticks and stones may break my bones…

…but words will never hurt me.

I wonder how many of us remember this rhyme from when we were children? And how many of us still believe it?

What exactly is violence? Is it merely physical action? something that may break a bone? It’s definitely that…but is that all it is?

That kind of violence is obvious. It leaves bruises…makes us wear casts…leaves scars…may end in physical death.

But what about the kind of violence that isn’t so obvious? The kind that comes from words…words that tell someone they’re worthless, of no value…that the world would be better off without them…that no one–including God–loves them. Isn’t that also violence?

It may not cause physical death–at least not directly. But sometimes physical death is easier than the soul or spiritual death that these kinds of words can cause. And even if the one who says those words doesn’t pull the trigger of a gun or beat someone to death, they help create an environment in which those actions can–and unfortunately, far too often, do–take place.

Some may say that individuals have a right to free speech, even if it’s obnoxious. I agree. I’ve heard a number of speakers that I find obnoxious and disagreeable…but for me the line is crossed when someone calls for violence against an individual–or a group of individuals.

Sticks and stones may break my bones…but words may kill the spirit. And to my way of thinking, that is a far worse sin.

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