Friday, April 27, 2012

"To tear flesh"

I try to read daily and I try, daily, to read something that I label broadly "spiritual" although what I usually mean by that is something to make me think about my life and how I impact others. 

While pursuing that mental / spiritual exercise last week, I read a little blurb about sarcasm.  The blurb was discussing about how sarcasm is a tool in our arsenal to protect ourselves emotionally.  I believe the word "repugnant" was used to describe the use of it, and we, the readers, were encouraged to eliminate sarcasm from our lives.

Noble pursuit, and not the first time I've read something that has caused me to think about my own use of sarcasm.  Sarcasm has been my friend for most of my life.  I'd like to think that I didn't use it to keep *people* at a distance, but instead to keep me at a distance from situations that were uncomfortable.  To make light of things in my life that were not as wonderful as I might want them to be.  Instead of directly complaining or addressing the situations - usually because I was or felt powerless to change them - instead I made "light" of them (or so I have believed) to distance their importance to me.

Y'know the situation.  When you tell someone else - not the person responsible - how much you LOVE it when someone forgets to pick you up after school.  How GREAT it is when your parents fight.  How you've ALWAYS wanted to take six buses and walk three miles to get to your favorite place (like home?). 

Sarcasm was my friend.  As a kid, I was powerless to change the situations.  So, I would *say* the words that suggested I was "happy" about them.  Maybe to convince myself.  But cerrtainly as a coping mechanism to distance me from them. 

With the lens of an adult, I am unsure just how bad my adolescence really was.  At the time, there seemed to be a lot of challenges.  At the time, I was a bit of a melodramatic teenager.  It was my job as teenager.  In the bigger picture of life, I had a roof over my head, food on the table, and clothes on my back.  As an adult, I have learned to appreciate these simple blessings.  Although, even now, I hope for more in my life than just these basics.

I'd like to think that I don't use sarcasm as a tool against others.  But I do not know.  It is impossible for me to step back far enough to know how I use it, because once I get to that place, I think more before actually using it.  Which, I guess, is a good thing.

But this last week, I have been thinking more strongly than before about the use of sarcasm as a result of what I read in this blurb.  And I think, once you read this, you, too, will think twice before you next choose to wield sarcasm as a "tool".  The passage said that sarcasm comes from the Greek word which means "to tear flesh". 

For the most part, I would have said that my use of sarcasm is harmless.  Or mostly harmless.  But when can the tearing of flesh ever be harmless?  Even the tiniest paper cut can really hurt and sting. 

How differently would we communicate with each other if we could see the literal wounds we inflict when we speak?  How much gentler, kinder, and more thoughtful would we be?  If we could see the way we make others bleed, how could we continue to act in that manner? 

I think we have a responsibility to think about our communications with each other and think more clearly about how what we say might affect others.  That by our words, we might "tear flesh". 

We may say that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me, but we all know that this is something we tell ourselves and that words do hurt.  So take care when you speak to others and be gentle with each other. 

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