The Best Word

Scrabble Word

“Oxyphenbutazone” is theoretically, the highest-scoring word in Scrabble.  Placed a certain way on the board, it would earn a whopping 1,778 points.

The best word.

I was on the playground today with my Lunch Buddy, when I saw a 5 or 6 year old boy kneeling in the grass, broken piece of orange chalk in hand, drawing a picture on a pizza slice-sized rock. 

“What a cool design you’re making on that rock!” I said as my Buddy and I stopped.

The little fella looked up at me, looked back at the rock, looked at me again,  and asked, 

“It is?”  

“It certainly is.  You are so creative to think of making a picture on a rock.”

“I am?”  

“You sure are.  You’re turning that rock into something really special. You’re a good artist!”
A big smile crossed his face as he stood up a little straighter, and he beamed:

“Yeah, I think I’m an artist!” 

“Keep it up, Picasso,” I said as my Buddy and I went on our way.  

He may not know who Picasso is.  But maybe he will.  When I called him “Picasso,”  I was thinking of this statement by Picasso, 

“My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier,  you will become a general.  If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.”  

I’m not sure if Picasso’s success was due to his mom’s positive words, but I have to think that her words didn’t hurt.  He believed in himself and I think his mom’s words made that happen.  

Deepak Chopra said, “Language creates reality.  Words have power.  Speak always to create joy.”  

People speak in one of two ways.  They either speak life or they speak death (Proverbs 18:21).

“The Message” puts it like this: 

Words kill, words give life; 

they’re either poison or fruit –  you choose.”

The conversation with that budding artist took less than 2 minutes.   I’m hoping the positive effect will be a lifetime.  

“I know words.  I have the best words,” said then candidate Trump back in 2015.  I like that. 

We all know words.  We have in our vocabulary the best words and the worst words.  

I saw today again the power of “best” words.  

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Necessary? True? Kind?

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I don’t know if it’s because I’m an “aging baby boomer” or what, but I kind of cringed at a couple of age jokes by Ellen at this years Oscars.

I like Ellen.  A lot.  So I tried hard not to cringe.  To overlook the jokes.  To think, “She didn’t really say that, did she?”

Her best joke, according to TIME, was when she said, “Possibility number one: 12 Years a Slave wins Best Picture. Possibility number two: You’re all racists.  And now welcome our first white presenter, Anne Hathaway!”

Her worst joke?   There were two nominees.
One was aimed at 84 year old Best Supporting Actress nominee June Squibb.  Ellen mentioned the Nebraska actress, and then turning to Ms Squibb, she shouted “I’m telling everyone you were very wonderful in Nebraska,” as if the elderly actress must have hearing problems. Granted,  It may be true – it’s true for me.  A lot of music booming in this baby boomer’s ears has surely lessened my hearing.   The comment still seemed hurtful

The other nominee for worst joke was one directed at 67 year old Liza Minnelli.  Ellen complimented the crowd for including “one of the most amazing Liza Minnelli impersonators she’d ever seen…Good job, sir.”  She was, of course, referring to Minnelli herself.  Ouch.

Liza came to the Oscars with her siblings to see their late mother, Judy Garland, honored in a tribute to the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz.”  Not sure how “honored” Liza felt.

The “age theme” was set early in the show with this joke,  “I’m not saying movies are the most important thing in the world. I’m not saying that because the most important thing in the world is youth.”

Sadly, the joke represented reality to a lot of people.

Last week, Ellen promised on “Good Morning America”  that she would not be doing any “mean joke”.  “My intentions are to make people happy, “ she had told Robin Roberts, “and my intentions are to never hurt anybody, and my intentions are to have compassion and to hope I can spread that a little bit every single day.”

I believe her.   Few people set out to intentionally hurt others.  “Hurt,” though, doesn’t know the difference between intentional and non-intentional.  It just hurts.

There is truth in the African proverb, “The ax forgets.  The tree remembers.”

As one who speaks publicly regularly, I know people have said about me what I said about Ellen: “He didn’t really say that, did he?”   I get that.  So, I look at this situation not as a judgment against Ellen but as a mirror in which I can see myself and the power of my words.

I was accepted into membership of an international service fraternity last week.  Its members commit to live by the following:
Of the things we think, say or do:
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER RELATIONSHIPS?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

As a Christ-follower, should I commit to anything less?

Buddha put it like this, “If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?”
Or check out the Bible, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).