We should agree by now that the quote we learned as kids: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” are false. Actually, sometimes we would be fortunate to have broken a bone than bruised the soul or psyche. It was my privilege to be invited as an “extra” in the filming of Sly Stallone’s last “ROCKY” movie. In the final installment of “ROCKY BALBOA” we find Stallone shooting the breeze at a bar that he rarely frequented in his hometown of Philly. It was always ironic to me that the “City of Brotherly Love” produced so many fighters! While minding his own business a young teenager approaches him and begins to berate him for no reason.
Over the years, I have learned that sometimes your success can scare the daylights out of others. Your gift may bring the best out of you but sometimes it extracts the worse from others. After her hurtful remarks to Rocky when she leaves; ironically his head is still ringing as if he endured another avalanche of assaults from Apollo Creed. When Balboa gets his bearings back he realized that the lady behind the counter is an acquaintance from years gone by.
Rocky says: “Yo, do I know you?” She doesn’t remember him at first but he then replies: “You’re little Marie.” Rocky in the original film walked her home one night because streets are no place for a kid. Rocky remembers a negative word that she (when she was much younger) said to him. She was blown away that he would remember her much less the words she said some three decades earlier. Rocky, went on to say: “Insults last a long time.” The fact is there is great power in the spoken word. The accuser never lost a wink of sleep over what she carelessly said to the soon to be champion of the free world but truth be told I bet not a day went by that either her words or the negative remarks of another rung Rocky’s bell like no opponent in the ring before or since.
I was taught as a child, if you don’t have anything nice to say – “DON’T SAY ANYTHING.” Just being real, I must admit that I have failed a few times but the older I get I am trying to do my best to take the high road (especially with my remarks). The Bible says: “To let our words be few.”
A milkman in the early 1970’s, would say “hello” to a five year old girl with big blue eyes and beautiful blonde hair. When he walked by on his weekly route he would tap her on the head as she played in the yard while dropping milk off on her front porch. He always said the same words: “Hello, Miss America.” She would smile with a grin the size of Georgia and continue to play and jump rope with her friends. Day after day, week after week when the milkman came by he said the same thing: “Hello, Miss America.”
Years, went by and the milkman’s job unfortunately became obsolete with his deliveries but those words danced in her head like a teen on a trampaline. In the early 1990’s that young little girl matured into a southern belle and was crowned Miss America from the Peach State. Most likely, that milkman didn’t see the future with her waving to the world with a sash across her shoulder as she beamed with beauty talking about “world peace” – or did he? We don’t know but the fact is those positive words sown in her life as an adolescent reaped a harvest for her as an adult.
Recently, Perry Stone showed a scientific experiment on world-wide television where a scientist had two containers of rice. The scientist had a label placed on the outside of both bottles and after 81 days he revealed his findings. Both containers had the same amount of rice in the cup and after the time alloted he displayed that one bottle had the rice in tact with very little deformation. However, the second cup was filled with fungus that made the stomach turn to look at. He then turned the containers to face the television viewing audience and on the cup that still had the rice looking fresh after 81 days the label had words scribbled from a child: “I LOVE YOU LITTLE RICE. I HOPE YOU HAVE A NICE LIFE and LIVE LONG.” The one filled with fungus had a note that read: “I HOPE YOU DIE!” The lesson speaks for itself.
It has been said: “We find life and death in the power of our tongue.” It also notes: “Our mouth speaks both blessings and cursings.” This should not be. Jesus said: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Friends, some of us need a CHECK UP from the NECK UP and our words should be seasoned with honey not spoiled with hypocrisy.
It has been said: “If one yells at a tree long enough that it will die.” I have not yelled long enough to test that hypothesis but I do know that if words can cripple a soul-less and heart-less grain of rice imagine what our words do to humans in our presence. In case you MISSED the MEMO: Life is a fight but we don’t have to battle everyone in our path. Today, we have the milkman in one corner who was a winner with words and built folks UP or we can resemble the reckless rehetoric of a negative wannabee who tore others down. Why be a chump when you can be a champ! WORDS are WONDERFUL until you use them to hurt others. Don’t delay – encourage someone today!