Hm, but you are hasty folk, I see. -Treebeard
Long, long ago, before some uber-smart guys found out that the entire world could be connected through the power that would be known as the Internet, companies could change their policies without a gaggle of bloggers responding with venom. Perhaps within a 48-hour period, said companies may even have had the ability to reverse course once they had officially changed courses. In these instances, perhaps the goals and results of the company would have gone unchallenged by the general public, in spite of whatever wishy-washiness had transpired.
Perhaps there was a time when words we said could be forgotten. If that ever was the case, the time has come and gone. The words we now say, thanks to the aforementioned power of the internet, are now indelible. For better or for worse, this is the world we live in, and we would be wise to take note.
So as I sit and reflect on the damage that was done today by World Vision’s hasty announcements on who they will and who they won’t employ, I am reminded of the power of the written (and spoken) word. Sure, we can make declarations today and undeclarations tomorrow. Sure, we can confidently chart our course for the future today and rechart the same course tomorrow, but not without significant damage to our voyage.
For the next few days, World Vision will remain the lightning rod of anger from both Evangelicals and Mainline Christians. And perhaps they earned it by their hasty words–wait, check that, they have definitely earned a response with their hasty words–and the collateral damage done on all sides has cause pain and elicited contempt. There are many losers and no clear winner in this instance. It is also clear that the time to have some serious conversations (that means talking and listening, incidentally) on biblical values concerning sexuality is now. But today, I’m struck with another reality.
Today I’m struck with the reality that our words matter too much to litter the world with them. Last Friday, nobody cared about World Vision’s hiring policies, as far as I can tell. World Vision was an excellent charity that helps those in desperate need of help. This week’s series of unfortunate events does nothing to change that. The attention will no doubt shift to a different lightning rod of wrath before long.
But goodness, do our words matter. And as much as we may try, we can never take them back. And as much as we may regret the negative consequences of our words, the Internet makes damn sure that they will be indelible.
Hoom, hmm! Come now! Not so hasty!