The Meridian Star
Along about 1970, fall Friday nights witnessed me setting new standards of ineptitude for Tennessee high school quarterbacks. I possessed about as much arm strength as Pee Wee Herman upwind.
It wasn’t uncommon for me to loft a wounded duck aerial in the general direction of a tight end running a down-and-out pattern toward the sideline. At the instant of releasing the ball, I knew I had made a gargantuan mistake. It was a sickening feeling to watch a salivating defensive back break on the fluttering pigskin. Pick six. End of story.
Next I would try to slither back to the bench, head down, in the hope of somehow avoiding my crusty old coach. No chance. He would greet me on the sideline by grabbing my face mask and kind of twisting my helmet to one side, while bellowing, “L-Yit, what in the Sam Hill were you thinking, son?”
The point is I wasn’t thinking. Words can be like that. Sometimes we say things – just like my misguided sideline passes – that we immediately wish we could take back. My parents taught me the same thing as yours – “Sticks and stones might break your bones, but words will never harm you.” A nice thought, folks, but also unrealistic. The truth is that words can unquestionably hurt others, sometimes cutting deep.
Now, I’m a Neanderthal where technology is concerned, but that’s not why I don’t engage in social networking like Facebook and Twitter. Methinks there’s just as much bad as good resulting from such media. Too many times messages and/or pictures are posted that prove injurious to others. In the extreme, it has been reported that suicides have occurred in reaction to mean-spirited, insensitive blogging.
As a former full-time journalist, I once made my living with words. I came to appreciate their power. But I could never speak to that so well as James 3:5-6, where it is written, “How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire.” Amen and amen.
You know, today America is engaged in a heated debate over gun control. Where social networking is concerned, perhaps we would do well to think of pistols and posts in a similar vein. In other words, the gun may not be as big a problem as the person pulling the trigger.
While a supporter of the Second Amendment, I would also contend that freedom absent responsibility charts a short course to chaos. I don’t own a firearm because I’m not properly trained in the use of one, and, with my impaired vision, I don’t think I could hit a target with a rifle any better than I used to hit a wide receiver with a football.
But that’s just me, and I trust that most fathers who teach their children hunting skills, do so responsibly. In such tutelage, safety must be paramount.
Words and images should likewise be employed responsibly. Referencing Proverbs 18:21, the tongue can be just as deadly.
Dr. Scott Elliott’s views are his own and do not represent an official position by his employer, Meridian Community College.