On a windy day in March 1997, a father and son visited Valley Forge National Historic Park, where George Washington stationed the Revolutionary Army during the difficult winter of 1777-1778.
The man and his son had something much less historic in mind: they wanted to launch a model rocket. At first they tried using electric ignition wires to light the fuse, but to no avail. So they tried lighting the fuse with a common sparkler, the kind frequently seen at annual holiday celebrations.
That’s when trouble began. Sparks ignited a grass fire and the winds quickly spread the blaze, burning a field where Revolutionary War soldiers had trained, and coming within a kilometre of George Washington’s headquarters.
The value of what they put at risk was incalculable. It took thirty units from twelve fire departments over an hour to bring the blaze under control. In the end some thirty acres were charred, and the man with the sparkler was charged with destruction of government property and improper use of fireworks.
Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. No-one can tame the tongue: the only blunt instrument that grows sharper with constant use!
So guard your tongue. Always say less than you think.
Your tongue is just centimetres from your brain, but the way some of us rattle on, you’d think our mouths and minds were kilometres apart. It’s one thing to think bad thoughts – it’s another to voice them. The saying goes: ‘You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from building a nest in your hair!’
So make sure your words help, not hurt; build up, not tear down. In other words, be careful what you say!