We all watched in shock and horror at the event that unfolded in Nice, France. There have been deadly attacks in Beirut, Lebanon. A hotel in Mali was also the scene of another sick, evil attack not to mention Iraq; Syria; Nigeria; Turkey and the list goes on. Why am I reminding you of these recent events? These repugnant acts of violence are a sign of a society that has lost its inner compass. Remember, we don’t need guns, or knives or bombs or trucks to damage other people especially those closest to us.

Fire and sword are slow engines of destruction, compared to the tongue of a Gossip. ~Richard Steele

The touchstone of good manners is the inherent dignity that all of us share in equally as human beings. For centuries, this has been the foundation of our Western Civilization. We desperately need to get back to these basics of beliefs in order to get ourselves back on track.

These five specific tactics work to create a deadly, toxic environment. They need to be avoided at all costs.

Shun – to expel from the community or group. This tactic which is often employed by young people to bully other classmates is really reprehensible. Too frequently, it happens in the workplace, as well. It severs the necessary bond that we all have…that is the need to belong with others.

Sarcasm – a remark made to hurt someone’s feelings or to show scorn. Did you know the etymological origin of sarcasm? It comes from the Latin word – sarcasmos which means to “tear flesh, bite the lips in rage”. Doesn’t that sound charming?? Often, it’s delivered as a very thinly veiled attempt at humor. Some family members can get into a bad habit of this type of speech but it’s extremely hurtful. The response of “It’s only a joke” isn’t good enough.

Gossip – talk idly about the affairs of others whether true or not. I don’t know of another type of behavior more toxic than this. Please don’t let anyone engage you in this. Walk away or say the opposite of what the person is saying to be clear that their comments are completely unwelcome. Managers, parents, teachers or anyone else in authority should take a very dim view of this if it’s discovered.

Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword. ~Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Libel – something written that injures a person’s name. Celebrity rag mags are notorious. And we buy it or look it up online on FB; Twitter. And then we share it all over the place. Why are we so curious about the misdeeds of others?

Slander – making a false statement that causes others to have a bad opinion of someone. Trolls love doing their nasty work on the internet. Or we share about our dislikes of others which are mostly imagined. This behavior is more common in young people but I do see posts from “older” individuals, too. We were made for truth, beauty and goodness. Lies destroy the good name of another person and it may never be recovered.

Candlelight displays, teddy bears, flowers and hashtags may help in the moment. But in the long run, we need to accept the fact that positive change in our world begins with each one of us taking responsibility for how we treat each other. Seeing the inherent dignity and worth of every human being that we encounter everyday means that our actions & words will follow suit.

You can change your world by changing your words…Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue. ~Joe Osteen


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