Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Who's Going to See This?

This morning my teabag tag read "Never write a wrong."

It put me in mind of a historical incident my son and I read about. In John Adams David McCullough describes a private letter written by Mr. Adams during the second continental congress. In it he described John Dickinson, the respected leader of those opposed to separation from England, in an uncomplimentary light and referred to him as a "piddling genius." The letter was intercepted by Tories and widely published, causing great harm to Adams' reputation and social life.

Even if such things do stay private, it would probably be best never to have written them, to be more charitable. (Of course, speaking out intentionally in public about a systemic injustice such as slavery or a dangerous activity like texting while driving is something else.) But it adds a whole new level when we are "caught."

It has become almost cliche to say that what you post will be around forever and might be seen by anyone, but a lot of people still ignore this fact, despite embarassing accidents. I have seen a lot of things, in a number of formats, online and otherwise that make me wonder if the person might end up regretting saying such a thing. Maybe I have been more careless than I should have been at times, too.

Beyond embarrasment, there are bosses, volunteer leaders and others who check Facebook, MySpace and Google before making staffing decisions. What we post can affect our lives in more ways than one.

And I think these verses apply to what we write as well as to what we say:

James 3:3-11
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or 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.5 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. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

What are your thoughts?