A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Mightier Than the Sword

Posted on: November 24, 2015

(A) blow of the tongue crushes the bones.

Many have fallen by the edge of the sword,

but not so many as have fallen because of the tongue.

~ Sirach 28:17-18*

Since the attacks on Paris, social media have been buzzing with opinions on how to handle ISIS and whether Canada and other countries should take in Syrian refugees in case terrorists should lurk among them.

Many are already rolling up the welcome mat. Following today’s announcement about the federal government’s refugee resettlement plan, some posted comments about “foreign migrants” carrying “fake passports” and describing refugees as “welfare tourists.”

Those may be some of the less acidic posts.

No matter how we feel about the number of refugees and the timeline—whether we feel there are too many or too few people coming too soon or not soon enough—verbally bashing refugees will get us nowhere. Unless, of course, we aim to be seen as lacking in compassion.

The kind of comments I’ve read would make me want to unfriend or unfollow the writers or, at the very least, delete their comments, which do little to accurately describe the refugees soon to arrive but reveal a great deal about the writers.

Surely we can have a discussion or even a debate on the issue that doesn’t involve tarring refugees with a terrorist brush simply because of the region they’re coming from or entail waging personal attacks on other commenters who disagree with the writers’ perspective.

We shouldn’t act as though using a screen name gives us licence to make comments we wouldn’t say in person or pretend that we can avoid taking responsibility for our words just because we hide behind a (thin) shield of anonymity.

Before posting such biting comments online, maybe we could take a cue from Sirach 28:24-25:

See that you fence in your property with thorns,

lock up your silver and gold,

make balances and scales for your words,

and make a door and a bolt for your mouth.

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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