Some call washing a kid’s mouth out with soap, cruel.
Which is more cruel, spewing words like Donald Trump did the other day to label some countries and demean people who come from those lands or getting your mouth washed out with soap so you’ll learn to think before you speak?
It happened to me, as a kid, more than once but not often. Early on, I learned words matter and soap leaves a disgusting taste. Mama said, “Words hurt worse.”
Which brings me to my Norwegian heritage. I don’t know any family or friend in Norway who’d want to come to this country even if the door flung wide so all could come, assuming they were blonde, blue-eyed, very white and very, very smart or rich.
My grandparents and other relatives came as dreamers. They lined up, endured conditions at Ellis Island, sometimes getting renamed by those who couldn’t understand their foreign tongue. But nothing could dampen their excitement at coming to “the land of the free and home of the brave.” So they booked passage, endured the lines, the jokes, menial jobs because they believed anything was possible here except a foul-mouthed president who’d make them wish they’d never left.
What recently took place should serve as a reminder that words spoken behind closed doors, in our homes and elsewhere, have a way of escaping. If we do not decry such talk in our homes, in private conversations, how can we expect to salvage civility in the public square?
The book of Proverbs contains wise sayings.
“The speech of a good person clears the air: the words of the wicked pollute it.”(from Proverbs 10 in The Message)
Time to clear the air.
Make conversations at home, school or work, safe places…
or get the soap.
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