We started speech therapy with Makayla when she was 18 months old. It was a difficult process for which Katy was at the helm. We had filled out regular surveys at the doctor’s office and thought to ourselves, “She might only be a couple weeks behind.” Then it was a couple months. Then six months. Then a year. So, we started speech therapy.
Now, she talks non-stop. It’s like she’s one of those toy cars you pull back that makes the ticking sound and then scoots across the room when you let it go.
We stopped speech therapy when she entered Kindergarten, and I credit Katy, Makayla’s Aunt Sharna, her speech therapists, and most of all Makayla with her success.
Now that she can say words, our challenge is teaching her how to use them.
Words are powerful.
They mend broken lives, topple governments, and preserve for better or worse our collective story as the human race.
When I was in Boy Scouts, I went to the house of an older gentleman named Mr. Eliot, along with three or four other guys, and he taught us about our citizenship in the community, nation, and world. He was kind, and I enjoyed running into him years later at places like Joe’s Meat Shop.
Words and Citizenship walk hand-in-hand. There’s a vein of thought that says actions matter more than words. Or beneath the rhetoric, look at the policies. But words are actions. In my own faith tradition, one writer put it this way, “Take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
How could we teach our children not to lie and not hold our leaders to the same standard? How could we teach them not to brag, bully, falsely accuse, use mean nick names, or a cutting tone and not expect the same from our leaders?
Perhaps, like me, you’re overwhelmed as you try and engage in citizenship, teach your children kindness, and listen to leaders saying the very things you teach your children not to. Don’t despair. Here are two types of people I look to:
1) Leaders who are willing to question those within the political leanings of their own organizations, like Chris Wallace.
2) My friends who are at the roots of movements, not the top, like the black chaplain I know who talks about Black Lives Matter and voices the pain she experiences as a member of the black community in America.
Most of all, remember your words are actions. Use them for good.
Joel and Katy