Repeat After Me –
This morning I gave a lecture to a group of parents at a Head Start (http://www.acf.hhs.gov/ohs) location in Lewisburg, Tennessee. The topic was the difference between discipline and punishment. Basically, the purpose of discipline is to teach, model, have a long-term view of who and what parents want their children to become. Punishment is a short-term consequence of poor behavior and/or decision-making. For a child to stay on the right path discipline must be consistent and punishment should never be greater than the lesson being taught. When the punishment is greater the lesson trying to be conveyed is lost.
The presentation went well but there was a translator in the room for a group of Spanish-speaking families. I’ve had a translator before but not enough times where I am used to the partnership. I either go too long and the translator has too much to translate or speak in incomplete, chopped up phrases which make it difficult for the ideas I’m attempting to relay not to get lost in translation. When it was over I thanked the translator and she assured me it went well which made me feel better but I think she was being nice to spare my feelings.
As I was driving back from Lewisburg I thought about how different the world would be if we had to wait for the words we said to be translated to the person to whom we were speaking. What if we were forced to take breaths between thoughts, make sure we said only what needed to be said instead of talking incessantly? To be sure how our words were heard, received by the other?
I think, hope, if we used a translator for every conversation we would choose our words more carefully, ensuring the intent of what we said was being conveyed, use far fewer words, and the space in between what was being said and translated to prayerfully seek that what was being said and received was with wisdom, grace and love.
This morning I burnt my tongue. I drank too much coffee, too fast and am paying the price. I’ve scalded my tongue before and it hurts, every time. I don’t like the pain or the sensation when I rub it against the roof of my mouth. There are treatments I could try to dull the discomfort but, from experience, time is the greatest healer.
As I’ve dealt with my injury this morning I’ve reflected on both the damage a tongue can receive and deliver. What if hot beverages and spicy foods weren’t the only ways to harm our tongues? What would happen if our tongues were burnt when we used words that were too hot, highly charged, and injured another? What if our speech inflicted wounds upon us when they did to our brothers and sisters? How much more careful might we be with careless, rushed, rude, insulting, judgmental language if we too felt the pain our words can cause?