Thursday, November 11, 2010

Violence of Words

On the spiritual page of the Catholic Times a columnist asks,"Do our words make others fearful? He recounts the story of a friend who lives with his mother and often has difficulty understanding her feelings; she continually upsets the emotional life of the family. The son would like to have his mother go for therapy but  is afraid this will develop into a problem and keeps quiet. The columnist indirectly asks what does he  fear?

From the time they were children, she would tell them, when they did not listen to her, that there was no reason to keep on living, or she would tell them it would  be better for her to leave. This so frightened them that they obeyed, but feelings of oppression and  despondency became part of their life.

When the columnist expressed sympathy for his situation, he broke down crying. He told the columnist how his mother had no relationship with others in the neighborhood, and that she would repeat many times during the day all that she had done for them. And how disappointed she was in them for not doing what she expected.

It was only in later years that he learned  his mother was taking medicine for depression. The columnist tells us that although the son was well-educated, he was suffering from the unhealed scars of his early years and was often overcome by feelings of  immaturity. When he saw the letter 4--to a Korean, a number associated with death--or someone writing a name in red, they would remind him of death and bring on feelings of despondency and fear.

The columnist  tells us that when we try to control another person's feelings with what we do or say we are using a form of violence. This would be especially true when dealing with children. We must learn, he says, to be more conscious of the power of the words we use. A person with a good heart will use words that give life, helping both the  speaker and  the hearer to live the resurrected life. Our Lord tells us in Luke, "Each man speaks from his heart's abundance."

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