Why Our Words Matter

This writing was prompted by Peyton S. Gendron’s live-streamed killing of ten innocent people who had done the shooter no harm. Gendron‘s so-called manifesto and his actions on the fateful day of May 19, 2022, prove inflammatory words that inspired his horrific act were germinated by people preaching divisive rhetoric.

The Buffalo super-market shooter deserves to be held accountable for assassinating ten innocent people. However, the perpetrators of the hateful and untrue rhetoric that incited Gendron’s violence should also be held liable. They are every bit as responsible for the deaths of those innocent lives as the shooter. Moreover, they are equally accountable for corrupting the morals of Gendron, a weak-minded little man who lacks moral discernment.

The following litany highlight ways our words impact us, others, and our varied environments – home, work, church, and neighborhood.

  1. Words influence culture.
  2. Positive words affirm, encourage, inspire, and lift up. They speak life, healing, and peace into existence.
  3. Negative words kill and destroy people’s reputations, relationships, and livelihoods. In some cases, words crush people’s spirits poking holes in their self-esteem and objectifying them by attacking and questioning their inherent value.
  4. Upbeat, pleasant words coupled with encouraging actions create warm and nurturing environments in which everyone has the opportunity to grow and flourish.
  5. Disparaging words shun, exclude, ridicule, and harass. Such terms also create a hostile and abusive atmosphere where hatred and wrongdoing are nurtured and perpetrated.
  6. When dropped in the hearing of weak-minded people, words can incite violence, including harassment, and results in stigmatizing folk and the social, if not physical, genocide of individuals or particular groups.
  7. Occasionally, negative words lead to unstable people committing horrific acts of violence, including carrying out mass shootings, encouraging folk to commit suicide, or taking a life over a petty disagreement or perceived personal insult.

We should choose our words carefully, understanding they have an impact beyond our thoughts and the small group in which those words are uttered.

May God help us speak words of life, healing, and peace. May God’s Holy Spirit gently urge us to recant and repent from saying words that cause pain and, in some instances, irreparable damage.   

God, help humanity.