Monday, January 17, 2011

Words and Murder

Unless you live in a cave with no electricity you are well aware of the tragedy that occurred some nine days ago in Tuscon, Ar. A young man shot and killed six persons and wounded several more. The news media have been filled with speculation about his motives. If political rhetoric spurred him into such evil, awful acts.

The Bible has many passages on how our words can have a powerful impact on the people around us. One of my favorites is "Death or life are in the power of the tongue and those who love (to use their tongue" will eat the fruit of what they say." I did a doctoral dissertation on developing a systematic human relations model in 1975. Since then I have been preaching, teaching, writing and training people how to minister life instead of death.

Having said that, I am not suggesting that the young killer was influenced by political speech. There is no evidence that he was. As soon as I read his statements in the paper I knew he was deeply troubled and probably suffered from paranoia. It was listening to his own deeply broken heart statements that led him to kill.

My friend and mentor Dr. Richard Walters did some research on the power of the spoken word to impact listeners. He had actors read prepared statements on tapes and brought in students to listen to them. Some statements were harsh and others warm. Others were neutral.

As the students listened to the tapes Rich had their pupils measured to see what happened. Amazingly, when the students heard a harsh statement their pupils opened wide as they would when under attack. When they heard a warm, caring statement the pupils relaxed as in safety. He discovered that indeed, physical harm was in the spoken word as was physical health.

As you read this reflect for some moments about your speech patterns. Are you a blessing or a curse to those around you? The Bible says, "Do not let anything come out of your mouth that does not build up the people who hear you..." EPH 4:29

How are you doing as a person that is building up the people around you?

Scale yourself: Zero is Destructive and Ten is Fantastic Life

Family: 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10

Friends: 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10

Co-Workers: 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10

Church People: 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10

Strangers: 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10

People you dislike: 0-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10

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