Violence begins with an angry word. It could be any word–the exact word is not important, but the attitude that carries the word starts a chain that might continue until it turns into full blown violence.
One of the main traditions of dysfunctional families is expressing anger in unhealthy ways. Most of us learned this in childhood. All it takes is one sarcastic word followed by one that is just a little more belittling than the one before it and before we know it violence happens.
Healthy anger can be expressed by action, but unhealthy anger is often targeted toward a person. Many dysfunctional families live in fear and reaction to a parent or member who is a workaholic, alcoholic or rage-aholic. When anger is taken out on children or a spouse’s body it is unhealthy.
Today I noticed a conservative Facebook page with an unflattering picture of Hillary Clinton and a caption that read, “Say one word.” Person after person typed in the most disparaging or vile word they could think of.
Such an exercise only incites a mob mentality and promotes a form of violence in the hearts of those who participate. And the political party doesn’t matter–the same would happen if a liberal page posted a Rush Limbaugh picture and did the same.
It’s not about the parties or Hillary or Rush. The words we choose in either case are more about us. We bring our own hearts and anger into the equation. And we do violence to ourselves when we speak of others with hate and animosity.
Violence starts with just one word–one word to give voice to our anger and eventually if given the right circumstances–say the person who hates Hillary runs into the person who hates Rush–if even by accident, their premeditated hate will spill onto each other and they might start a war.
Violence is not always physical; sometimes it’s angry yelling or putting down another person until it strikes them in the heart. Parents yell to control their children and siblings fight to be heard. The carnage left behind is often irreparable unless the light of God’s love is allowed to heal it.
The only way to avoid such anger and violence is to avoid the first disrespectful thought that leads to the first word. When we chose to respect all people whether we agree with them or not, when we choose only words of truth and compassion we can finally become impeccable with our words.
Avoiding such anger and violence is one good reason to bless even our enemies. This is the way of peace.
Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right.
Think about things that are pure and lovely,
and dwell on the fine, good things in others.
Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.
Keep putting into practice all you learned from me
and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8, TLB