Read the eulogy former Senator — and still an Episcopal priest — John Danforth gave at the funeral of his friend Tom Schweich. Mr. Schweich was running in the Missouri Republican primary for governor. He committed suicide last week after a whisper campaign was mounted by his political opponents.
We often hear that words can’t hurt you. But that’s simply not true. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said just the opposite. Words for Jesus could be the moral equivalent of murder. He said if we insult a brother or sister we will be liable. He said if we call someone a fool we will be liable to hell. Well how about anti-Semitic whispers? And how about a radio ad that calls someone a “little bug,” and that is run anonymously over and over again?
Words do hurt. Words can kill.
There is also the Quaker principle of “Speak only if you will improve the silence.”