When we were children we had a saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” We usually quoted this little jingle when words had hurt us, and it was usually followed by sticking out our tongue for emphasis. Somehow this ditty has been passed down through the generations, even though it’s not true. Words can destroy us.
It’s not the well thought out words that give us trouble, words that we wrestle with before writing them down, words that we edit a dozen times before finally putting them in print. The words that trouble us and cause our difficulty are the careless words, the thoughtless words, the words that escape our lips without thinking. These words cannot be called back. Unlike animals escaped from the cage, words cannot be hunted down and returned to captivity.