Do you remember growing up hearing the rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me!?” The intent of that couplet is to steel us against teasing and badgering but, the reality is, words can internally leave nasty marks. Cruel, mean-spirited, or foul comments may inflict enduring damage and color the way we view the antagonist.
Coach Lou Holtzwas quoted as saying, “Never tell your problems to anyone...20% don't care and the other 80% are glad you have them.” Holtz has a great sense of humor; let’s just hope his findings are inaccurate! Most people don’t want to spend their time listening to others complain. As I write this, I recall a person I used to avoid taking phone calls from because his pattern was to grumble at great lengths about his circumstances. By the end of the call I was irritated. This person never seemed to be happy feeling only bad things were afoot.
Loquacy ran up the red winding trail as fast as his four little legs would take him. He did not stop until he reached the wide brown mound where Sage lived. The old wolf sat above the entrance and looked curiously as Loquacy panted, trying to catch his breath.
“Help me Sage,” the young Chihuahua gasped. “I seem to have made a mistake and I don’t know what to do.”
Located in Belgium, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) is the Headquarters of Allied Command Operations (ACO), one of NATO's two strategic military commands. While visiting SHAPE headquarters a group of about twenty of us received a briefing from Admiral James Stravidus. Unlike any other meeting we attended over a five week period (spanning multiple organizations and three and four star headquarters), Admiral Stravidus used only pictures. His presentation was spell-binding. Not only did the use of pictures free of verbiage help us to concentrate more on his words, they also reinforced what he was trying to say so that we were better able to understand his intent. He is a dynamic leader who demonstrates an uncanny ability to clearly express himself.
Cassidy sent out an email to her boss. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Grok Inc. cited several recent incidents that occurred and accused Konrad, a coworker and fellow executive, of harassing her and generally acting like a jerk. The boss was surprised because he had worked with Konrad for years and had never before received complaints like this about him or observed him to act in a way that was disrespectful to others. So he asked his CFO to call him. When she did, he questioned her as to what exactly Konrad had done. In the course of the conversation the boss realized that Cassidy was making several bad assumptions about her coworker. It especially galled him that she had not discussed her concerns with Konrad before sending him the negative report.*
There is a slang term in the English language, brown nose. It means to seek favor in a fawning manner. For example, someone may pay you a compliment to make you feel good about yourself while in reality what that person wants is simply to gain your favor. People brown nose to gain a higher standing. Those who observe people brown nosing, often ridicule them directly or behind their back because the action smacks of flattery and a lack of genuineness.
Why did God scatter people across the globe and confuse their languages? The Scriptural interpretation for an offended God is often based on a literal reading of Genesis 11:4, “And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But why would God be angry with people for plotting to fabricate some skyscraping tower? I don’t know any stupid architects. No one can build anything that reaches heaven. Therefore, there had to be something about the purpose of the tower that drew God’s wrath. Marvin Rosenthal provides us analysis from his careful research.
Genesis 11:1,4-9--At one time the whole earth had the same language and vocabulary . . . And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” Then the Lord came down to look over the city and the tower that the men were building. The Lord said, “If they have begun to do this as one people all having the same language, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down there and confuse their language so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So from there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth, and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name is called Babylon, for there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
I picked up the sports section of The Oregonian dated February 5, 2002 and read Selena Roberts article about a sixteen-year-old ice skater, Sarah Hughes. Selena wrote:
“You know Sarah Hughes? She flutzes.” The words usually have come in the form of a whisper in some back corridor of a rink, in the back alley of a figure skating competition, from adults turned adolescents . . .Who started it, no one really knows. Maybe an opposing coach, a certain judge, a chatty critic. But from every direction, Hughes is hearing and reading how she takes off on the wrong edge as she enters her lutz, making it what’s called a flutz.
Have you ever considered the notion that what you and I say is a form of planting? For example, if I whine constantly I create an environment of dissatisfaction and I reveal an inner discontent with life. If I have a critical spirit and am harsh in the way I feel towards others I create an atmosphere of distrust and rob my surroundings of joy. If I talk only of myself I establish a place of pride and self-centeredness that leaves others with no desire to linger. If I speak of others with unflattering terms or negatively I produce gossip or slander and cause the reputations of those of whom I’ve spoken to wilt. At the same time I’ve created the perception in the listener “I wonder if he talks about me like this when I’m not around.”
Here’s a great word for you—logorrhea. It literally means excessive use of words which is comically close in sound to a word which communicates an excess of another problem!
The rain pours in Oregon tonight—steady and persistent. It is a most fascinating messenger of nature. Rain promises green vegetation and air that is clean to the taste. It gives the sun true reason to sparkle. It vanquishes the parch of drought. Conversely, rain is the mother of rust, the father of mold and the saturnine priest of depression. Its airborne invasion conquers tabescent mountains as earth gives way to water. Houses lose their foundation, trees buckle under the roar of new mudslides. Floods wipe away the very dreams of those once nourished by peaceful rivers.
The furnace of character development is heated for many by speech. Growing up, I was the butt of “short-people” jokes. Remember the song that came out in the ‘80’s making fun of short people?—“short people got no reason to live.” Unfortunately, I learned early on that an effective defense against cutting remarks was the use of sarcasm. A witty putdown can become an art-form. It feels good to sting the stinger. But does it really?