Friday, July 17, 2015

War of Words

Words are whirling like a storm, like bullets flying, like glass shattered in the wind.

We use more words today than ever before in history, and we have more media platforms to say them, text them, post them.

For all that, so many of our words boil down to people saying things to people about other people.

We classify our discourse as expressing opinion, conveying information, or engaging in journalism, scholarship, analysis, etc., etc., etc. Yet what so much of it really is, in the end, is one form or another of self-affirmation, gossip, unnecessary curiosity, detraction, calumny, or cynicism.

We use words to assert ourselves, or to make war on one another. And our words express what is inside our hearts. We have hearts full of violence.

This has much to do with lack of real communication that displays itself so fiercely in Internet comboxes and social media networks, as well as in human interactions in so many other areas. Here online, it can become a concentrated barrage. Multimedia words and images, comments sharp as daggers, unfounded accusations and personal attacks.

It becomes difficult to remember the topic or controversy, to keep it focused and grounded, much less to embark with others on a journey to find the truth or deepen our understanding of it. I know very well that some of these matters are urgent and that it is necessary to fight for the good. Too often, however, a perceived "expedience" trumps respect for human persons.

We have let the sun go down on our anger. When anger takes over, the first casualty is beauty. If we speak the truth without its splendor (which has nothing to do with fancy words), we fail to communicate, we fail to help others to see reality. We can put the shape of our own desperate anger even on the truth. It's not surprising that others don't listen, or that they strike back. Our words attack them like a knife in the stomach.

The word "hate" is tossed about. All kinds of accusations abound from all sides. Are we really fighting for the good. Are we fighting for love?

Or are we trying to "win" our own victory? Are we lashing out in perceived self-defense, frustration, or to cover up our own problems?

Often it's a tangled combination of all these motives all mixed up together.

I have asked myself, "How often, when I speak or write, are my words aimed at distraction, or at defensiveness, or at drawing attention to myself? And what am I looking for when I listen to or read the words of others?" How many wasted words! Foolish words. It becomes draining and discouraging, this war of words.

I think perhaps we use words foolishly because we are insecure. We are insecure.


Because we are afraid that we are not loved. Or, rather, we have forgotten that we are loved. We are not nourished by a vital connection with the One who loves us. We need prayer.

And not just more words of prayer. We need silence.

We need to let Him love us.


Jeannie Ewing said...

"...what so much of it really is, in the end, is one form or another of self-affirmation, gossip, unnecessary curiosity, detraction, calumny, or cynicism."

You hit the nail on the head with that statement, John. It's funny you wrote about this, because I just went on a mini-rant on Facebook about how I have this love-hate relationship with social media. I suppose the only REAL "love" I have for it is that I have been able to connect with so many incredible families worldwide who have children with the same rare disease that our sweet Sarah has. I also am able to keep people updated on Sarah's journey so that, when they ask, I can redirect them to social media and our website. But truthfully, I wish I could live without social media altogether. Sometimes - more and more - I have this outrageous longing to live radically, with few material possessions for our family, and in the midst of the wilderness.

It's so true that social media and technology in general has pushed many people over the edge into full-blown narcissism. I can't say I've never posted anything without even a slight, subconscious hope that I might receive affirmation on something. That's why I hate social media, because, though it has its proper place and can be used properly, I feel as if I'm constantly fighting against the REAL life I live with my husband and children.

Plus - as you can see here in this space I am filling up, it seems that people use more words and yet say very little. :) Hmm, what does that say about this mini-soapbox here? ;)

Anonymous said...

Yes, why do we speak?

Giving thanks is a good reason. In fact, "Thank You" is a prayer that's always answered instantly. That's taking "instant gratification" to a whole new (and higher) level! Speaking of thanks, I enjoyed your recent piece in Magnificat, and I enjoyed this post very much.

God furnishes all we need to know and provides us all we need to want. Why, then, is the quiet moment always breaking? Maybe silence--gazing inward upon the divine face of Christ in our heart--is equally a consolation as it is a fulfillment. There is such a clamor to this world, yet it only echoes that mystery within each of us. But we can hold one thing clear in faith: the gift of Christ's justice and of his mercy: peace.

May peace be with you.

Marian Green said...

Yes, we need silence.....
Just saying....