Monday, August 17, 2009

Sticks and Stones

Chill is a part of the wonderful Orca Soundings Series of Hi/Lo readers for teens put out by Orca Book Publishers. The first Orca Soundings I read was Beth Goobie’s Stick and Stones. It’s about a girl that’s labelled a slut for not sleeping with a guy; but the guy spreads rumours that she did.
I enjoyed the book the first time I read it but having never really experienced anything like that, or been blissfully unaware of things being said behind my back, I didn’t fully understand. Like Leonard Cohen said, “When Jesus knew for certain only drowning men could see him . . . ” often we don’t find empathy and compassion until we’re the ones who need it.
Buddha said, “To understood everything is to forgive everything.” But, when words are used against you because someone is more worried about how others will perceive them than they are about staying true to their own conscience, or doing what’s right so that others don’t get hurt, it’s hard to forgive, even when you understand. And there is often little you can do to defend yourself, like Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes”. It seriously messes with your head.
But it also makes you realise how much of your own world, your perceptions of it and the perceptions you have of other people, is based on things that you heard and not what you've experienced and how your experiences can be tainted by what you’ve heard; scientific studies have shown how much words can influence perception.
Much of our world is created through words that may have been said by someone who was confidently mistaken, didn’t respect their power or the lasting repercussions of the things they said, or worse, realised the power of words and used them to manipulate others to go against their conscience and do things that they otherwise would never have done—in the extreme look at the Manson Family or WWII Germany.
The Quran says, “Have you any knowledge so you can bring it forth to us? You follow only conjecture and you only tell lies.” Without even knowing it, without meaning any malice, we have all heard something we believed to be true, and acted on it, judged people on it, or spread what we heard without considering the repercussions. And that thing later turned out to be false. That is our sin and others suffer for it.
Standing up and specking the truth is never easy; speaking from the heart using your own God given reason to find truth and compassion rather than create justification or just worrying about being politically correct. When Christ was facing crucifixion he spoke frankly and honestly to the high priest and the guard struck him for it. Jesus said, “If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”
If you don’t believe in religion or the prophets, then believe nothing and weigh the words on their own merit, and don’t get caught up in semantics. “Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened to the bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moon's location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?” – Zen Parable
When you hear a rumour, or a story, or even when reading a book or watching a film or television ect, try to do so with empathy, compassion and thought for all involved.“For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.” Proverbs 2:12
And keep in mind, as Socrates said, true wisdom is in knowing we know nothing.
Stick and stones may break our bones, but words can shape the world we live in. So respect them and always look past them until you see the moon.
“It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” Matthew 15:11

"It's so easy to laugh, it's so easy to hate, it takes guts to be gentle and kind." - The Smiths

Copyright © Colin Frizzell 2009. All rights reserved.

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