Editorials by Robert Kirwan

You Have No Idea How Powerful Your Words May Be.
Choose Them Carefully…
   We’ve all been there. If you are human, you can’t help but experience times when everything seems to be going wrong and you feel as if your life is completely out of control. It is during those “down times” that words of encouragement from family, friends, co-workers or even strangers can boost your spirits and change your entire outlook. It is also during those times that destructive words can be devastating and sink you deeper and deeper into depression.
   For example, consider the story about a group of frogs that were traveling in the woods when two of them fell into a deep pit. All of the other frogs gathered around the pit. When they saw how deep the pit was, they told the unfortunate frogs they would never get out.  

   The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump out of the pit. The other frogs kept telling them to stop – that they were as good as dead. Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs were saying and simply gave up. He fell down and died. The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and suffering and just die and get it over with. The more they yelled, the harder he jumped and finally made it out to safety.
   When he got out, the other frogs asked him why he continued to jump when they were all yelling at him to simply quit and die. The frog explained to them that he was deaf. He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.
    While this is may seem on the surface like a humorous silly story, it contains a powerful message for all of us. An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it through the day. A destructive word can kill them – perhaps not physically as it did in the story, but definitely emotionally, which is sometimes even worse.

   Furthermore, it is very difficult to determine just how our words will be interpreted by others. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that you always be careful when saying anything which may have a negative impact on another human being who comes across your path. You may not think you are saying something that will have a serious emotional affect on a person, but you never know what state a person is in at the time you speak to him/her. You never know what your words will do to a person’s spirit, so you should always be encouraging and avoid critical comments that may rob emotional life from someone. 
   To illustrate this point more vividly, consider another story about a high school student named Mark, who was walking home from school one day when he noticed that a boy ahead of him had tripped and dropped all of the books he was carrying, along with two sweaters, a baseball bat, a glove and a small tape recorder. Mark knelt down and helped the boy pick up the scattered articles. They were walking in the same direction, so he helped the boy carry some of the items.
   As they walked, Mark discovered the boy’s name was Bill and that he loved video games, baseball and history. Mark also learned Bill was having a lot of trouble with his other subjects and that he had just recently broken up with his girlfriend.
   When they arrived at Bill’s home, Mark was invited inside for a cold soft drink and to watch a bit of television. The two boys spent a couple of hours with a few laughs and some small talk, then Mark went home.
   They continued to see each other around school the odd time during the next few years and had lunch together once or twice, but that was the extent of their relationship. Finally, three weeks before they were both to graduate from high school, Bill asked Mark if they could talk.
   Bill reminded Mark of the day several years ago when they had first met. “Did you ever wonder why I was carrying so many things home that day?” Bill asked. “You see, I cleaned out my locker because I didn’t want to leave a mess for anyone else. I had stored away some of my mother’s sleeping pills and I was going home to commit suicide. But after we spent some time together talking and laughing, I realized that if I had killed myself, I would have missed that time and so many others that might follow. So you see, Mark, when you picked up those books that day, you did a lot more. You saved my life.”
   The next time you feel the need to be critical of someone, or to utter destructive or discouraging words, just think about the two frogs in the pit. Destructive words seldom produce positive results. Or think about Bill and what might have happened if Mark would have simply ignored Bill that day on the sidewalk.
   Every time you have a chance to say something positive or encouraging to another human being, do so! Don’t let those opportunities get away from you. Your words have a tremendous amount of power. Use them wisely. You really never know just how much they can mean to someone else.
   Have a good week!

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