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Word for word (11/16/2008)
By Janet Lewis Burns
“It is a good thing to demand liberty for ourselves and for those who agree with us, but it is a better thing, and a rarer thing, to give liberty to others who do not agree with us.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt, radio address, November 1933

People who say they can’t stand clutter in their spaces likely keep their minds free of miscellaneous riffraff. Words spoken, uttered, whispered, yelled, or stuttered, ripple through the lips of prophets as well as fools, just in different patterns.

At times, we feel like we’re drowning in words. We can read and not retain a thing we’ve read. Some days nothing sinks in. Words aren’t all that’s said; words aren’t all we hear. Life’s greatest lessons are unspoken.

Prayer is…? I’m nearly 64 years into my life. I pray differently in my waning years. Memorized petitions to God are taught early on. Sunday morning church services are conducive to prayer, but I no longer begin and end my prayers there. Conversations with the Most High become a constant companion. Like other cherished relationships, isn’t it a speak/listen affair? Someone of great faith once proclaimed, “In everyone and everything I encounter each day I see God.”

Words of confession sift through open wounds of festering guilt, the blinded eye, a repentant tongue, regrets’ strained denials. If the beating heart does not ache or the bitterness hasn’t melted somewhere deep within, again and again you return, to find that God has not broken the connection.

Are they just words? Letters to editors, bumper stickers, football sweatshirts, billboards, adages, e-mails, political debates, and secrets whispered in shadowy, cramped places…just words? Everyone has a statement to make to the world, the perfect answer, a cocky remark, or an angry retort. What it comes down to is the mighty “I.” A word of advice is usually an opinionated intrusion. Actions speak louder. Nobody ever really wants your opinion…an embrace, a pat on the back, a wink, the reassuring nod is all.

A tear for a tear flows from mutual experience. A hand squeezed is a moment of mute understanding. When fear overwhelms, another’s open arms can be a calming shelter. In times of need, do we question the comforter’s color, race, or religious belief?

“As we make gains in mutual understanding, there will inevitably follow greater mutual tolerance…It is important to remember that we can be firm without being offensive in support of principles that are sacred to us. We must realize that good humor, patience and tolerance are as important internationally as they are individually.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1946

Someone must have been tampering with the Ten Commandments! By whose authority has number eight been deleted, the one about lying to one another? Have you noted that dishonesty and deceit are a way of living in today’s world? The most destructive example of this goes on in the political arena during aggressive cutthroat campaigning, trickling down to small town elections all over the U.S.A.

Those who get elected by dishonest and deceitful tactics aren’t winners – they’re losers!

The primary focus of many of the candidates is to raise outlandish campaign monies and to garner votes, regardless of what must be done to achieve victory. To live by the credo, “Everybody does it!” is, if not childish, destructive and immoral, passing a corrupt way of life to subsequent generations. Genuine accomplishment is based on actions, humility, and sincere dedication, not a jumble of clever and empty promises and slogans.

“Our understanding of how to live – live with one another – is still far behind our knowledge of how to destroy one another.” -Lyndon B. Johnson, to the United Nations general assembly, December 17, 1963

I read incessantly! I get sick of reading my own words. Many more faith-filled individuals need to voice their convictions concerning the corruption and discord all around us.

Give the world something moralistic and enlightening to ponder! Share your stories!

Janet Burns is a lifelong resident of Winona County. She can be reached at: patandjanburns@embarqmail.com. 


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