A city and even a nation can be overthrown simply by wicked speech. We understand how the leaking of sensitive information can be devastating to the integrity and safety of a nation. Was it not for that reason that the idiom was coined during World War II, “Loose lips sink ships”?
As disturbing as the incessant leaks are, I am more disturbed by the degeneration of speech on both sides of the political spectrum as well as in the general American population. I’m speaking of the lying, taunting, belittling, name-calling, and out-right slander that has become so prevalent. Words of kindness and respect have been trampled by invective hatemongering. Many Americans, including our elected officials, have forgotten that we can agree to disagree without resorting to abusive verbal violence.
Unfortunately, today’s technology has made wicked speech more prolific. Americans often turn to Facebook or Twitter to post their rants and attacks. They hit the “post button” before they even consider the consequences. God has a warning about that, too: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19).
The danger in all of this is that with every unkind word, slanderous remark, lie, and abusive taunt, we are pulling America down stone by stone. Such language fuels the hotbed of distrust and anger. This is the fodder that causes mobs to beat on the doors of the Supreme Court or violence-inflamed individuals to send explosive packages to elected officials.
If a city can be over thrown by the mouth of the wicked, our nation surely cannot survive the verbal assaults that are being made upon it by its own people. For more than 200 years, we have withstood every enemy from without, and we have united to solve many problems from within. But if we do not control our tongues, we are certain to destroy ourselves.
I, therefore, appeal to our leaders and all Americans to reconsider the language you are using against others. The fact that you disagree with them gives you no right to attack them verbally. The fact that you dislike them or what they stand for gives you no right to insult them. The fact that you feel that your way is superior to theirs gives you no right to lie or slander.
In no way do I mean that we should be silent. Speak up. Share your concerns about America as well as your dreams. In political discussions, there is a place for appropriate criticism, and we need to hear and discuss those views if we are to solve problems and improve our nation. But let us put an end to the knifing of one another with words lest we destroy all that we love and hold dear.
I urge all Americans to think before you speak, to consider that your words have consequences—not only for you but for the entire nation.
—Wayne P. Cooper