Last night, at the county jail, I overheard someone talking with an incarcerated resident who will be paroled soon. The person joked; “I’ll see you back here in a couple of days.” The resident responded; “Probably, seems like I can’t stay away from here.” The conversation felt like someone punched me in the stomach.
One of our goals at the incarceration facility is to teach the men how to think differently. Most of the men grew up in dysfunctional homes, surrounded by difficult environments. Their minds work a certain way because they’ve been conditioned to do so. Raised with violence, drugs, alcohol, abuse, distant or absent parents, and other challenges give them a skewed understanding of who, what they are and should be as a person.
Trying to change the mindset for most of these men is tenuous at best and to have someone reinforce their old patterns is frustrating.
Words are powerful. The old saying; “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.” Is not only wrong but devastatingly so.
Every utterance we speak is packed with power. As the Master says; “Spoken words contain life and death.” Wisdom teaches us not to speak unless it improves upon the silence. It’s a way of reminding us that careless words which escape from our mouths can imprison others and ourselves.