words that bring peace

Every major religion that I know of advocates saying only words that are true and kind. 

In Judaism, we call this mitzvot (commandment/ rule/ blessing) lashon hara. As in, "don't say negative words!" Christianity doesn't necessarily use the Hebrew term, but the Bible is pretty clear that slander and negative speech are bad. Islam also forbids gossip and "backbiting."

One of the eightfold paths of Buddhism is "right speech." This might be seen as an offshoot of Hinduism's concept of dharma, but in any case, Hinduism (as well as all its major offshoots) forbid gossip and slander. 

Wiccans (one of the branches of NeoPagans) have a concise and poetic rule that encompasses not telling lies or gossiping: "An it harm none, do what ye will." ("An" meaning "if" in Middle English.)


And yet...


And yet, slander and gossip and lying are as old (or older) than every religion I can think to name. And we continue, despite every prohibition, to say the worst things, to hurt the people we love (and the people we hate). To lie because it is easy, or gets us our way quicker, or just for fun. To relish in the schadenfreude


Just like every moral code, it is up to each of us to decide to practice or not practice our beliefs. 

Personally, I am committed to lashon hara (and to trying to retain empathy for those in pain), but it is hard. 


It is easy to snap when I am tired and say something mean. (All too easy. Especially when I'm also hormonal or hungry or have a headache.)


Each moment can be a reminder to practice. Each moment, as we speak, we can ask ourselves, "Am I hurting anyone by saying these words?" Each moment we can remind ourselves, "This is the way I want to behave" and remember that empathy and love are our highest ideals. 


Each moment carves out a space for us, empty until it is filled. 

Let my intentions and values be known by the words I use. 
Let the words I choose be sweet and not bitter.
Let the words of my mouth be a blessing not a curse.



Every day. Every moment. Bring peace.