it’s been a little more than twelve hours since the grand jury in ferguson missouri announced their conclusion and there are fires everywhere. actual fires burning in and around the city (and elsewhere) and relational fires burning everywhere.
it is important to be aware that our words can be like sparks. they fall upon ears connected to hearts and minds where our language starts relational fires all the time.
in a time when throwing words into wide open spaces is easier and farther reaching than ever, it is important to be mindful of the impact of what proceeds from our lips and our finger tips. in a culture where delaying is rare and impulsive commenting a national pass time we are constantly throwing sparks into the wind. because the ears that our words reach often exist in living rooms and coffee shops and homes far removed from the ones in which we sit it’s become far too easy to fail to consider the tinder we are throwing sparks toward.
when building a bonfire at the beach or a camp fire in the woods we are told to survey the area, to prepare and light the fire with intention, to consider the size and scope of the fire relative to the setting, and to have what we need to put the fire out before we light it. lighting a fire without the right conditions can be futile or dangerous. either it just won’t work or it runs the risk of burning out of control, of spreading, of becoming dangerous.
what might our discourse today look like if we used the same caution? if we thought first (and long and hard) then crafted well constructed comments to be placed with intention out in the world? if we tended these comments with caution and care for everyone around the fire in mind (as opposed to caring only for our own safety or escape plane)?
physical fires are not the only dangerous ones. relational burns can be every bit as destructive. fire is a beautiful gift and unfathomable tool. i am spending my day praying, intending, and hoping that we will use the fire of our words respectfully, empathically, mindfully, and with love which is the way that all super powers are best engaged.