President George W Bush has revealed to the UK newspaper the Times that he regrets the legacy that he will be known as a man of war. The article from The Times:
President Bush has admitted to The Times that his gun-slinging rhetoric made the world believe that he was a “guy really anxious for war” in Iraq. He said that his aim now was to leave his successor a legacy of international diplomacy for tackling Iran.
In an exclusive interview, he expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about how his country had been misunderstood. “I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.”
Phrases such as “bring them on” or “dead or alive”, he said, “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace”. He said that he found it very painful “to put youngsters in harm’s way”. He added: “I try to meet with as many of the families as I can. And I have an obligation to comfort and console as best as I possibly can. I also have an obligation to make sure that those lives were not lost in vain.”
It is very easy to criticize him in hindsight for the words he used – perhaps he should have realized at the time that he was painting things in very black and white terms. But like it or not, our language affects how people think of us. They may be only words, but words can built up or put down, encourage or criticize, hurt or support, make friends or make enemies. There is a proverb along these lines:
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Prov 12:18 )
In the botanical gardens in Durham there was a small inscription on the wall by a pond – I don’t know where it was from. It said
“A pen is too light, use a chisel to write”
It gets across the importance of choosing our words wisely. Even if we use them loosely they may be chiseled into someones mind. They can not only do damage but people may judge us by them in the future.