What you say is a reflection of what you think, what you perceive, and what you dwell on.
Words carelessly uttered have a consequence. The word “unspeak” is a medieval yet inaccurate term. Yes, you can recant. Yes, you can renounce. Yes, you can mention innumerable excuses for a declaration, but the effect of what you’ve said could only be minimized, but not negated.
Off the cuff remarks from a person of stature make for appealing soundbites. It shocks people, it piques interest, it heighten affinity to the speaker. The speaker’s sincerity and authenticity would be applauded by those who hear him. They would justify how genuine, real, and down to earth he is. They would disregard the fact that the power of words lies in its overarching message, its deeper meaning. Words in the form of comments, opinions, and interjections all carry with them an intent. It’s this intent that you need to be very, very aware of because of how it will affect people. It can build others up or tear them down.
In the realm of politics, mudslinging, accusations, insults, and below-the-belt statements are a norm. Every election cycle has their share of words designed to destroy and diminish an opponent. Unfortunately, the unhealthy tradition and practice is passed onto every supporter and pundit (qualified and unqualified alike).
We perpetuate the seeds of animosity and disdain with the words we say to each other. We speak ill of others simply so we can tout someone else’s ideals. Protected by our digital persona, we use our keyboards as tools to destroy one’s efforts, steal one’s hope, and kill one’s reputation. None of the efforts are worth it.
It’s a lesson we can all heed from the eruption of reactions from Mayor Duterte’s off the cuff remark. Instead of holding someone accountable, we worked double time to sling mud at each other on the grassroots level to defend him. We took the unnecessary risk of losing our character so we could express a stance; partially fueled by irrational passion and misguided reasoning.
Your words reflect your politics. If you claim to stand for hope, for change, for progress, and for peace, then embody these ideals with your declarations and conversations. Otherwise, your intent is already questionable. “Civility is not a sign of weakness and sincerity is always subject to proof,” President John F. Kennedy said in his Inaugural Address more than 55 years ago. In an age where your words travel faster and could bear greater consequence that you can imagine, may you have the strength to speak in a way that’s consistent with your chief aims.