Text of the week

The Holy Bible
The Holy Bible

‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight.‘ (Psalm 19 v 14- KJV)

We appear to be saturated by social media these days.

A recent newspaper article said that “people are unleashing their inner venom in text, email, Twitter and Facebook in a way that is not healthy for society”.

We don’t have to dive below a chat forum, or surf the news to encounter this poison. It can surface in the composition of our most perfunctory texts and emails. It’s there in a careless word choice or the uncertain tone. A wise friend told me never to compose an email you didn’t want the world to see. Ah! Too late.

The message has been sent. And there is no way to retract it.

In this all too speedy world of words, such advice is all too easy to ignore.

I wonder if there is something we can do to redeem the situation?

Maybe we should all develop what you might call an inner editor.

Maybe we need to engage it more rigorously when composing messages and reading those of others. Of course, it is not just about what we say.

Sometimes the best antidote to an unpleasant exchange is to say nothing. Saying nothing is often the right thing to say. We have the right to remain silent. We just don’t exercise it.

Perhaps we need a set of virtual commandments to help us avoid, diffuse and redeem the venom. Scripture may have been written long before broadband, but it offers surprisingly handy tips on how to operate in the virtual world.

I paraphrase, but the next time your fingers hover over the send button, maybe we all need to do is to pause and ask ourselves, are the words full of grace, seasoned with enough salt, will they say what is helpful, and build-up and benefit the reader? Perhaps then the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts will be acceptable in their sight.

Philip Hacking,

Locum, Blackbraes and Shieldhill, linked with Muiravonside Church