Christian Living Relationships/Family Identity

The Nature of Words

Sheiba E.

Words can be sharp
Like a knife,
Cutting deep, reaching deep,
Far down, deep.
Strung together like a gun’s bullets,
Weapons of the tongue
Spitting speech like fire,
Laced with arsenic.
Poisonous, destructive words.

Words of insensitivity
Devoid of care
To unrest, the restless I see.
A punch to the chest
The best way you can express
Your apathy.
Pain over pain
The same game I’ve played.
A cycle of re-runs
Done with the disregard
As I’m guarding my heart
From the unsympathetic
The flippant
The unconcerned
The cold

That strike like iron
Are coated in ice
Twisting the knife deeper,
Finger always on the trigger
Ready to shoot
Bring down
Put down
My words.

Words of unrest
That desire justice,
That scream with me
That have a place
A space
In this dialogue
Not flogged off,
Scoffed at with indifference,
Condescending assurance
That I am delusional

These words
Your words
My words
Need words
That build up
And comfort
The hurt and hurting
By Listening, respecting
And choosing carefully
Your words.

Words that tend the scars
When things fall apart
That hold the bleeding hearts
That need heart-to-hearts
And start hearing
Our words.

No barking over my voice.
No denial of my reality.
No accusation of instigation.
No attempts to overpower me.
But simply
Hear me.
Then, we can begin to build
Those hopeful

When I wrote this poem, the major point that I wanted to emphasize is how important and dangerous our words can be. During the aftermath of the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson (and later on, the same result in the Eric Garner case in New York), I was on Twitter for most of the night, and a lot of people said some hurtful things, many of them even stating that they were Christians. They were denying the reality of systemic racism and even racism’s existence.

Many users even accused black people and others who were angered by the grand jury’s decision of being “race-baiters”, of deliberating looking for a race angle simply to be offended. This bothered me deeply. It felt as though people were erasing not only my voice, my experiences, and my daily reality, but those of any other person of color who has experienced racism and discrimination at any point in time, whether overt or subtle.

I wrote these words to let people know that in the midst of racial tensions, it is important to be quiet, to listen, and to learn from those who are hurting , from history and how it affects the present, and to join in fighting against the way the sin of racism manifests itself both in our society as a whole, and within our personal lives. To simply ignore, accuse, and deny does nothing, but fester racism’s growth, and stifle dialogue and action.

2 thoughts on “The Nature of Words

  1. William F. Leonhart III

    Also, I really liked your last sentence: “To simply ignore, accuse, and deny does nothing, but fester racism’s growth, and stifle dialogue and action.” I would argue that ALL sides of this discussion need to heed this statement. ALL Christians should resist the urge to ignore, accuse, and deny, not just one group of Christians. That is the only way to ensure we have the dialogue many on this website are saying they desire.

  2. William F. Leonhart III

    I too followed the reactions on Twitter on the night after the Ferguson decision. I saw a lot of hatred, insensitivity, and unwillingness to listen on both sides of the issue. I’m still seeing a lot of hatred, insensitivity, and unwillingness to listen on both sides of the issue. Sadly, it only seems one group is being asked to set aside their hatred, insensitivity, and unwillingness to listen. Should all parties be asked to lay down their arms? Shouldn’t we be endeavoring for a dialogue rather than merely a monologue on this issue? I sincerely don’t see how preaching AT people is any kind of solution. Where is the “We hear you, and we understand, but…” message. All I’ve heard since Ferguson is the “Shut up, and listen!” message. And it’s blaring.

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