Using Words Carefully & Thoughtfully

The mild winter days we have been enjoying lately may confuse our senses such that we begin prematurely thinking about spring like activities. I for one have been busy with household tasks usually reserved for warmer seasons, like cleaning out the garage. Many have enjoyed the warm sunny days whatever the cause, ocean currents, global temperature increases, prayer, or the good old almanac!

The weird weather makes the shorter days bearable. For the past several weeks we have reflected on themes of Light and Darkness as we heeded the words of Isaiah and heralded the coming of the Light of the World. As we continue to celebrate God’s gift of light revealed in Jesus through the season of Epiphany, I invite you to pause with me for a moment and ponder the power-filled words “light” and “dark.” Light is associated in western culture with all things “good.” Light purifies, shows the way, keeps us safe, grants us vision, and reveals the truth. Darkness is associated with all things “evil.” The dark corrupts, hides the way, makes us blind, lurks with danger, and covers up truth. As metaphor, images of light and darkness have been employed to describe cosmic battles between good and evil since language developed.

Having pondered the commonly associated meanings to those power-filled words, ask yourself this question, If my skin tone is light, does that make me good? If my skin tone is dark, does that make me evil? Now ask the same questions as if you are four or five years old. Studies have shown that our children decide self-worth based on skin tone alone by age 6 or earlier based on the power-filled words they have heard early in life. By the way, the answer to the above questions is the same, “NO!” Skin tone has nothing to do with one’s character, one’s worth or one’s abilities. One’s potential may be another subject, especially if you are taught to associate your skin tone with something negative.

As church we must learn to take care whenever we use power-filled words such as light, dark, white, black, good and evil. We may not mean anything by what we say, and yet impressionable ears are always open to the mean we may say. May God help us speak with care for all who may hear us.

Peace & Joy,
Rev. Robert Bushey, Jr.