Congratulations to King Dice, Queen Francine, Prince (Junior Monarch) Irish Kid, Princess Kitanna, winners of all other Carnival shows throughout Dominica, as well as to the participants of all the shows. Well Done! I wish everyone a safe peaceful and enjoyable carnival. As we revel, let us be minded of what we do and say.
This week, we are discussing the power of words. There were quite a few calypsos, which followed the theme of Halibut’s “Long Tongue,” which earned him the Cadence Lypso crown last year. It is said that calypso represents the pulse of the nation, and so does the focus on the power of the tongue suggest that we need to pay more attention to what we say and how? Does it suggest like Halibut advised, we need to give our tongues a vacation? As I write these words I think I should do a review of the calypsos, however this is not what spurred this article and given I don’t have the words of all the songs, I will defer this for another time. This is an idea worth exploring.
The genesis of this article came from a conversation last week with a good friend, who was lamenting that Dominicans, especially women, find it difficult to say anything good to others and seem to have difficulty in having a conversation with her beyond her weight and her luck in having her husband…a handsome man! She in exasperation continued, “Isn’t there more to me than my weight? Isn’t my husband blessed to have me as a wife? This year, we will be married for twenty years, and I played no part in ensuring that this marriage survived? Isn’t he blessed that I mothered his children? Isn’t he blessed that I take care of our home, ensuring that there is food on the table, clothes to wear and a clean and peaceful home to come home to? I can count only four persons, you included, who will start a conversation with me outside of my weight and who say things to uplift me. I am fed up of these Dominicans!
I felt her pain and could empathise, for we, women really seem to have a preoccupation with people’s weight and seem to make this our centerpiece of conversation. I, too, am regularly confronted with the same, except I don’t allow it to get to me. I remember a woman staying at the entrance of the Fish Market shouting at me standing at the entrance of the Roseau Market about how big I was. Just two days after this conversation, I was dressed in a little black dress, and had received many compliments, when in approaching a friend, she called out, “Valda, Well! Well!” The tone of this greeting signaled it was going to be a discussion on my weight, so I continued my walk with no comment. She continued, “Whey! Whey!” Again with no response from me, she said, “What is it, are you trying to give me competition? Where are you going with that size? This is not the Valda I knew.” I did not take the bait, I responded cheerily, “Good morning! How are you doing this blessed and sunny day? How are the children? How is your husband?” The conversation then proceeded with her telling me all about herself and family and I got an update, as I had not seen her for sometime.
This exchange brought back in sharp focus my friend’s lament. I also reflected that we had not seen each other for more than a year, yet the first exchange, if I had taken the bait of her greeting would have been on my weight, and given she is a few times bigger than I am, her weight. Such a superficial conversation! The very next day, another friend met me and after inquiring about my well being commented, “Valda, you are losing weight. I am not even seeing your stomach!” I laughed! I said only yesterday, I was chastised about my weight gain and today I am praised about my weight loss! You see the point I am making. I am not saying that we cannot speak and express our concerns to our family, friends and others about their weight, however before we do so, let us enquire about their wellbeing and let us ensure we do it constructively. There may be several reasons for weight gain or loss, and often our comments instead of motivating a person to make lifestyle changes, may have the opposite effect. The person may in fact be losing weight however if we shout out about their continued weight gain, the person may say what’s the point of trying when it is clearly not visible. Let us guard our words.
The tongue is a powerful force. It has the power of life or death, so let us use our words to give life. The Bible provides many instructions and guidance for us on the use of our tongue. We need to do some introspection. We need to ask, “Are my words life or death giving? Are my words more positive than negative? Are my words more inspiring and motivating than condemning? Are my words more truthful than fabrication of the truth? We need to also examine the motivations behind our words. What is the source of these words? Our words are a reflection of who we are, as Leona reminded us in her song, “Bad people giving good people bad name.” Luke 6:45 tells us, “A good man draws what is good from the store of goodness in his heart; a bad man draws what is bad from the store of badness. For a man’s words flow out of what fills his heart.”
The Rotarian Four Way Pledge is a practical application of Luke 6:45 in our lives:
“Of the things we think, say and do:
- Is it the TRUTH?
- Is it FAIR to all concerned?
- Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?”
As we approach the closing of Carnival season in the next two days and enter the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday, may we make a pledge to use our words wisely, to use our words to bring comfort, joy and inspiration to others and to give our words a vacation when we find it does not build and empower ourselves and others.
Happy, Safe and Peaceful Carnival!
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 767 449 9649.
Until we meet again, May the Lord continue to Keep Us in the Palm of His Hands. Blessings Aplenty!