There’s a children’s song that includes these lyrics: “be careful, little eyes, what you see…be careful, little feet, where you go…be careful, little mouth, what you say.”
I thought of that when I heard the news of the mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand–and the fact that one of those arrested had a social media account linked to an 85-page anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim manifesto.
Our words have consequences!
When we demonize entire groups of people–whether because of their religion, their sexual or gender identity, their politics, or any other way we choose to divide into us versus them–we should not be surprised when someone then finds it acceptable to attack those same groups.
We then hear words of condolence and condemnation–often from the same individuals/organizations/entities that demonized them in the first place.
We may not always agree with each other. In fact, I’m sure we won’t. But it’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable.
When we are willing to learn about each other–why we worship the way we do…why we have chosen the political path we are on…what it means to have a gender or sexual identity different from what is considered the norm–then we will see that those we call “them” often have the same challenges, concerns, cares, and hopes that we do.
They want better lives for their children–just as we do. They want a place to live and enough to eat–just as we do. They want a world where war isn’t the norm–just as we do.
Finding the solutions to the problems in the world is not going to be easy. But our words can help us find ways toward peace–or create more violence.
Which kind of world do we want? Our words do have consequences.