THE tongue, though a very small part of the body, has potential not only to destroy an individual but tear down nations through words.
This is why the Bible describes the tongue as a fire and a world of evil among parts of the body.
And Proverbs 18:21 further states that the tongue can bring death or life and those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
Many thinkers across the globe have cautioned against the consequences of careless talk.
For instance, a British politician, Pearl Strachan Hurd, said: “Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atomic bombs.”
A renowned international speaker and author, Yehuda Berg, said: “Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.”
Yes, depending on how they are used, words can either build or destroy.
With established evidence of the power that words carry, it is worrying to see how careless some politicians have become with words.
One just needs to turn to the media, especially social media, to see how people have become careless in their talk.
Some politicians and citizens in general have no iota of responsibility as they spit out whatever comes to mind regardless of the potential impact on the country.
Some politicians have turned the media into a boxing arena for verbal battles.
On daily basis, we have people being verbally assaulted through lies peddled against them by their political opponents.
We also have people with a well-set agenda to paint Government black and cause an uprising by peddling lies against those in power.
This is certainly not healthy for our country.
Such careless talk has potential to plunge the country into chaos.
This is why we join Zambia National Service director of chaplaincy Henry Matifeyo in calling for ceasefire in the war of words that has engulfed our political arena.
Speaking when he gave a homily during the commemoration of the Remembrance Day in Lusaka on Sunday, Colonel Matifeyo urged people not to entertain activities that threaten the country’s peace.
Col Matifeyo rightly advised that we are all duty-bound to better our relationships with everyone around us.
It is actually the duty of every Zambian, whether politician or not, to put national interest before self.
It is in national interest for people to endeavour to live at peace with one another.
Actually, we owe it to our founding fathers who sacrificed so dearly for the peace we enjoy today to maintain it.
However, the war of words we are witnessing among some politicians today has potential to rubbish the efforts of our founding fathers.
History has so many lessons of how mere words have plunged countries into turmoil.
The 1994 Rwanda genocide is one example of how words can tear down a nation. The genocide is largely attributed to careless talk, where one politician, Leon Mugesera, gave a speech to 1,000 ruling Hutu party members, describing Tutsis as cockroaches and called for their extermination. His careless speech led to the massacre of about 800,000 people and the total breakdown of Rwanda.
The media in Rwanda exacerbated the situation by sending hate messages into the airwaves thereby leading to the explosion of the conflict and within 100 days Rwanda experienced massive killings of the Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
As a country, we cannot allow ourselves to be careless or let frustrated and self-centred politicians plunge the country into chaos through unseasoned talk.
Our politicians will do well to follow the advice of some thinkers who said, “Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.”
Politicians need to understand that every careless word spoken has potential to cause wounds which can last for years.
This is why those who understand the power of words treasure silence when faced with utmost provocation.
While feelings of hurt come and go, negative words spoken last a lifetime.
There is also need to understand that no careless word spoken goes unpunished.
While the laws of Zambia may prescribe punishment for careless talk, which amounts to defamation and sedition, God also promises that on the day of judgment, people will be required to give account for every careless word they speak.
In the spirit of patriotism, let us ensure that we speak words that build our country as opposed to destroying, otherwise posterity will judge us harshly.