Our words matter. Sometimes they last longer than we do.
Last week, I visited the Chicago History Museum’s exhibition entitled Lincoln’s Undying Words. As I entered the exhibition, I slowly read the name of the exhibition and the phrase “undying words” stuck with me the entire day.
I uttered those two words to myself over, and over, and over as I viewed the pieces of the exhibition.
The exhibition explores how Lincoln’s views concerning slavery had changed during his presidency and emphasizes on the lasting impact of his most powerful speeches: the Gettysburg Address, his inaugural speeches, and the Emancipation Proclamation. Even if we know nothing of slavery or abolition or even Lincoln, for that matter, we are probably familiar with his words.
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal.” – from the Gettsburg Address
“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.”- a passage from Lincoln’s second inaugural speech.
These words have weight, and often people quote people without even knowing who said it first, or the context in which is was spoken. Alas, this the strength of words both spoken and written. In Lincoln’s day, as we all know, words were not so quickly passed as they are now. People had to listen to as they were being spoken in that moment and wait weeks, months, or years to read them in print. Now, we have a multitude of platforms in which to express our every passing thought. What we send into the digital world can get passed on and passed on through every social media network out there.
As both a writer and a person of faith, I am well aware that my what I express to the world bears great importance. Every post I write reflects on me as an individual, the values I carry, and what I profess to believe. As I profess a belief in God and proclaim myself as a disciple of Christ and his teachings, then do the words I utter, scribble or type reflect the actions of Christ? I admit, sometimes I fail to express anything that reflects my discipleship. It would suit me to spent some time in solitude before I sit before I press a single key.
In a world that limits you to 140 characters, words must be carefully selected. One wrong Tweet, post, or status update and your social media network will quickly disengage. When our society relies on #trendingtopics and immediately responses, how do we engage and connect on an intimate level? How do we effectively use social media to bridge the gap from the screen to the heart? How can be digital disciples to the world in which its inhabits seem to have an attention span of a gnat? Can our words be undying? If they are, what message will they leave for the next generation?
What we say matters, so whatever platform or method we chose to communicate, we should remember to use them wisely.
“By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words will be condemned” -Jesus in Matthew 12:37,NABRE