“Gentle words are healers and helpers; but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15.4
A Word of Hope
There have been a lot of posts on social media lately by animal rights activists on the subject of big game hunting. Images of gloating hunters posing with their prizes are nauseating to me, to say the least. Not only are they extinguishing a precious lives, they are also displaying a deliberate ignorance about the delicate balance of the ecology. Every time I see one of these posts, I am reminded of the Ray Bradbury short story, “A Sound of Thunder.” It’s about a time-traveling safari company that specializes in accommodating the desires of wealthy big game hunters.
The jaded hunters have grown bored of wiping out the same old local species year after year and are now longing for bigger game from the past; like a Tyrannosaurus or a Pterodactyl, perhaps. The hunt is timed so that the kill will be made at the exact moment a particular animal would have died anyway, so as not to cause an event that could change history. They are confined to standing on some sort of sci-fi generated path that floats above the ground so that not even the smallest flora or fauna is disturbed. Inevitably, someone blunders off the path thinking no real harm had been done, but on returning to his own time discovers history indeed has profoundly changed. Then one of the other hunters happens to notice the sole of the boot of his clumsy companion. On it is the crushed remains of a tiny pre-historic butterfly. He had unwittingly interrupted the flow of events in the natural course of the food chain.
The importance of little things, supposedly insignificant events the world sees as irrelevant, was an often-explored motif in many of Bradbury’s sci-fi stories, but this particular example has stayed with me for years. -A crushed butterfly. How often, as children or adults, have we callously brushed aside or destroyed small lives such as those without any regard for environmental consequences? In that same regard, how often have we injured the spirit of another human being with a thoughtless word that would change that person’s future forever? We see the same motif repeated throughout the Bible, too. James compares the tongue, such a little thing, to the rudder of a ship guiding it into peaceful seas or destroying the vessel on the treacherous rocks.
Whether we choose to use our feet to squash a very essential spider or our tongues to crush a spirit, these supposedly irrelevant actions do matter to God, and who can predict when our planet’s future can be changed forever by a thoughtless action in the present?
Loving God, teach me to tread lightly in your world.
Minister for Children and Families
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare