Our Personal Arsenals of Weapons of Mass Destruction

“Miss Maudie stopped rocking, and her voice hardened.  ‘You are too young to understand it,’ she said, ‘but sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of — oh, of your father.'”  This line is from To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s classic that I’m rereading this week.

This brought to mind a scene I witnessed recently.  An older woman was being taught by a younger man.  She was a socialite type; he was probably not, though I can’t say for sure.  What I can say is that he was more competent in the area in which he was instructing her, than she was.  It’s normal when we get someone to teach us something that they would know the subject better than we do.  But all I can guess is that the older woman probably felt some shame, for she was attacking the younger man with her breeding and worldliness, and it was one of the icier attacks I’ve heard in a while.

First she peppered him with aggressive questions as to how much he knew about hedge funds and then berated him for not quickly being able to define the difference in private equity and hedge funds.  And then when he didn’t react much, she went on to chide him because he didn’t readily jump into a discursion on Pre-Raphaelite paintings and their place in art historical movements.

Maybe it’s a “you had to be there” moment.  But perhaps you can relate it to a time when you had a chill down your spine over something that someone said without really knowing why.  And knew you were in the presence of something icky but weren’t sure what it was.  Or maybe, like me, you yourself have been on the wrong end of a word gun aimed at someone else, killing them in an attempt to lift yourself up, banish your own shame, or avoid feeling like a zero.

I heard myself yesterday saying to someone I love, “Oh did you happen to get a chance to do ______?  It looked like you started but didn’t get a chance to finish.”  What is the POINT of such statements? If it “looks like” it to me, then I probably already have enough data on that.  Why would I want to point out to someone else that I noticed that they did not finish something?  I had to stop and say a quick prayer, asking God what was going on internally for me that caused me to lash out (however gently, those “gentle” ones sometimes being the deadliest).

Because, you see, I had picked up a weapon and used it before I even knew consciously that I was slightly miffed/inconvenienced/annoyed/pissed off/angry/hysterically violent (pick one for each scenario you find yourself in). And that scares me more than the times I know I am mad.

It made me think of Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?”  How little I know my own heart.

And I have to work in this verse I cling to also, “My conscience is clear but that doesn’t make me innocent.  It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Corinthians 4:4).

How many times do I use words to manipulate, put down, dominate, seduce?  Too often.

Does this caption fit my topic? I'm not sure... but it's something more to think about in terms of speech.



~ by Cary on November 19, 2010.

One Response to “Our Personal Arsenals of Weapons of Mass Destruction”

  1. You’re heard.

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