As the dominant species on this planet, human beings have gained control over almost all beasts. I say almost, firstly because there is a lot more to this planet than we know, and secondly, a beast that is almost as numerous as humans and as frequent as humans is still out of control.
I am talking about the most dangerous of beasts, the most treacherous, the most deadly. I am talking about the tongue.
I started thinking about this after last week’s events of A Dongle Joke that Spiraled Way Out of Control. I read that article, the twitter stream, comments on the original blog post, some other blog posts, reddit stream, etc… I read both sides of the arguments, and realized that at the root of it, it was all rather silly. It seems like one of those fights where no one remembers the original reason why the fight began, because it was trivial and not worth blowing it up to this proportion.
The sad thing here is that both involved lost their jobs and suffered damage to their careers. All because of a joke that was not directed to anyone in particular.
I am sure there are thousands of stories like this, where people have damaged their careers, their lives, and lives of people around them due to such a stupid mistake. Mistake of saying something which you shouldn’t or reacting in a way that is not really necessary. It was a joke, but the person saying it forgot his position and who he was representing and what the joke might mean to others. And there could have been many ways that the complainant would have raised the issue to authorities. She just chose one that was very public. Both of these things meant a situation out of control.
And then I think of this dangerous fact. As much as we may not like accepting this, the truth is that our tongue is one of the deadliest beasts that can cause us harm. Countless people have said a lot about this beast.
The tongue like a sharp knife… Kills without drawing blood.– Buddha
You can change your world by changing your words… Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue.– Joel Osteen
Give thy thoughts no tongue.– William Shakespeare
Fire and swords are slow engines of destruction, compared to the tongue of a Gossip.– Richard Steele
Just search for tongue on any quotes website and read more.
At this moment, I am not very sure of what to feel about this entire episode. It just instills the power of tongue in my mind. How it can destroy lives of two people and their families and make the whole event a spectacle. How it can hurt people, kill people, destroy families, communities, countries. And yet, it can mend deep rifts, save lives, encourage, empower.
With great power comes great responsibility.
Yes, it seems amazing to equate power of speech with super-human powers. But maybe we should, if that is what it takes for men and women to realize the power of this beast inside their own head to hurt and to heal.