Old words, bad words

Before I started this blog to concentrate on my writing, I was already writing another blog. It’s called “Limping in the Light” and it’s still limping along out there. Today it focuses on its primary role: dealing with chronic illness while trying to live a life of faith, plus whatever rant comes to mind that week. Until I started this newer blog, however, everything, including the kinds of literary and film stuff you find here, was dumped into that one catch-all.

One such post has come home to haunt me recently. This post on the power of words, especially negative words, would fit nicely into “Scribbling in the Sand”. If I’d read it myself a few weeks ago, I might not have later blurted out what I thought was a clever wisecrack, but was actually a cruel invective cleverly disguised in joke’s clothing.

For a while after I uttered it, I wondered if maybe it was more hurtful than I intended and how the recipient might have taken it. The incident soon faded from my fading memory.

I thought no more about it until a subsequent role reversal. This time someone else made a simple joke at my expense, the kind of quip we often hear and too often make. We babble our little bon mot, not realizing it’s received as a mal mot, containing a slim stiletto of truth that cuts to the heart.

It certainly did in my case. For the next week I was undone. Unbeknownst to the speaker, he’d hit on a simmering volcano in my life and it erupted with a vengeance.

The upside of my injury was that it reminded me of my previous verbal blunder. In trying to make amends, I learned that my idiotic witticism stepped on a personal land mine. Now there’s some serious relational repairs to be undertaken.

wordbombs2That’s a lot of collateral damage for a couple of silly statements meant to entertain or, more likely, meant to flaunt our extraordinary wit. We’d like it if those who deal in weapons of mass destruction would show some discretion in their use. (They don’t, but that’s another sad tale.)

As dealers in words, we writers should be careful how we wield our particular brand of explosive.

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