By Sister Pat Lange
This is a universal reflection, for words are spoken or written in languages that cover our planet. Words can turn the world upside down. Not all words have a brief shelf life; some words can, and do, last forever. Who can forget the words of “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King Jr. – his words still drifting across our imperfect world? Who can forget the words of a faith filled Jew, scratching on some hidden wall in Cologne, Germany during WWII – “I believe in the sun even when it is not shinning, I believe in love though I feel it not. I believe in God, even when he is silent.” Who can forget the words of a Civil War letter written by Union Major Sullivan Ballou to his wife Sarah and their children before the first battle of Bull Run? Who can forget the words of Pope Francis calling the citizens of the world to protect the earth, our common home? Who can forget the first words of their own child? Who can forget the words of a teenager, Anne Frank, meticulously writing a diary in the midst of WWII and the extermination of her own people? Who can forget the words of Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” – “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as gentle rain of heaven. Upon the place beneath, it is twice blessed.” Who can forget the words of tyrants, past & present, who crush human rights, human dignity, and human life – Stalin, Hitler, Putin, and Kim Jong-Un? Who can forget the words of Handel’s glorious “Messiah?” Who can forget the words of the Hebrew Shema, the words of Sacred Scripture, the Koran, the writings of Buddha? Who can forget the words of Emma Lazarus inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” Words, whether written or spoken, can mirror the best in our human species, or serve as destroyers of all that is good and holy.
The future is summoning us, calling to us to be responsible ministers of words. The call of the future has given rise to this reflection, “We Can Do Anything.” You will notice that there are two parts to this reflection, Part 1 reflecting on the positive effects of the use of words, and Part 2 reflecting on the negative effects of the use of words. Seeing each part side-by-side will provide meaningful contrasts to the reader. Each part ends with the same echoing refrain: