Yes, we must think before we engage our marvelous intellects (oh contraire…). The proverbial wisdom is true–we must be slow to speak and quick to listen. Just ask the captain about the lighthouse.
No matter how sincere your apology, the damage caused by hurtful words cannot be fully eliminated. The moment our words hit their target (or, often enough, their “unintended target”) we are either happy with the result or we must do damage control.
Two opposite sides of the spectrum are true:
- We should overestimate the harm we could do & be speak carefully!
- We should underestimate the good we have just done with our words and seek to encourage again and again whenever we have the opportunity.
Our hurtful words are like throwing shredded paper out a car window at 60 mph. We simply cannot go back and pick up all those little pieces. We would be found guilty of “littering” no matter how much we wished we could make it right. We simply could not recover all those pieces. The wind would scatter the evidence of our indiscretion to other places, places marred by our litter.
However, the wrong done is not without its positive opportunities. For example, our mistake could teach us to not “litter” and motivate us to influence others. By returning to the site and correcting our mistake we could learn the best course of action is to not litter in the first place. We would realize the harm we did, though wrong, left us with the means to do right and teach our lesson to others.