Words can hurt, and words can heal. We are in a war with words. Where, oh, where is the one who brings the calm, the grown-up? I thought he walked into the room yesterday; but then, I see we all are flawed.
Do we still read the Bible? Proverbs came to mind this morning. The book of Proverbs is called the book of wisdom. Perhaps if we just read a chapter a day, God would be gracious to impart wisdom, and we would better know how to deal with our fellow man, our neighbor.
Do not go out hastily to argue your case; Otherwise, what will you do in the end, When your neighbor humiliates you? Argue your case with your neighbor, And do not reveal the secret of another, Or he who hears it will reproach you, And the evil report about you will not pass away. Proverbs 25:8-10 NASB
Yesterday, in response to the chaos surrounding President Trump’s call to comfort Mrs. Myeshia Johnson, grieving widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, one of our four fallen heroes killed in Niger; the White House Chief of Staff, General John Kelly stepped into the briefing room to defend the President’s actions.
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, of Florida had earlier reported that she was in the car with the widow who was traveling to receive her husband’s body, when the call from the President came. The call from the President was on “speaker phone” mode, so all who were present in the vehicle could hear the call. The Congresswoman later reported to the news media that President Trump told Mrs. Johnson in that call, that “he knew what he had signed up for” and she took that as being insensitive.
Perhaps it was, but was that President’s Trump intent? I think not. I can imagine that making a call like that is difficult. He was calling her to offer his condolences as Commander in Chief. But for two days we have been embroiled in the President’s call, his denial of what he said, his lack of empathy, and the like.
General Kelly stepped onto the scene to conduct yesterday’s daily briefing. He began with explaining what happens when we lose one of our fallen heroes. He meticulously goes through the process and allows us to peek in to what happens behind the scene. He then explains his engagement with his boss, the President on how to make a call to family. He describes those calls as always being sacred. General Kelly expresses how stunned he was that Congresswoman had listened in on the phone call, and had reported the content of the call, something he viewed as sacred; sacred like women, gold star families and religion.
General Kelly later referred to the Congresswoman as an “empty barrel” as he told of a dedication of a new FBI building in Miami. He recalls how Congresswoman stood up “in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise”, to announce how she was instrumental in getting the funding for the building. He stated that they were stunned that she had done this; yet none of them went to the press, inferring like she did to report the President’s remarks.
I must admit I was very disappointed that General Kelly proceeded to tear down the Congresswoman. Did she do something that was unwise? Of course. In her haste, she went to the media to report the call, rather than contacting the President directly, as suggested in the Proverbs cited above. But, to refer to her as an “empty barrel” was equally tasteless, classless. I saw General Kelly as a man of honor. His comment diminished that. But like I said earlier, we are all flawed.
I think that we could all benefit from reading Proverbs. It just may help us in our discourse. There are 31 chapters, one for each day of the month.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1 ESV
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in picutres of silver. Proverbs 25:11 KJV
Actually, we do not have to limit ourselves to Proverbs, the Bible can make us wise if we just try to live by its principles. Finally, perhaps if we would have employed the principles of I Corinthians 13, that is often referred to as the “love chapter”, we wouldn’t be in this war of words.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I Corinthians 13:4-7 NASB