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Sticks and Stones

Solomon wrote, “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit”  (Proverbs 15: 4).

A few years ago I found a wonderful illustration of this while reading Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

“In the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific some villagers practice a unique form of logging,  If a tree is too large to be felled with an ax, the natives cut it down by yelling at it.  (Can’t lay my hands on the article, but I know I read it.)  Woodsmen with special powers creep up on a tree just at dawn and suddenly scream at it at the top of their lungs.  They continue this for thirty days.  The tree dies and falls over.  The theory is that the hollering kills the spirit of the tree.  According to the villagers, it always works.

“Ah, those poor native innocents.  Such quaintly charming habits of the jungle.  Screaming at trees, indeed.  How primitive.  Too bad they don’t have the advantages of modern technology and the scientific mind.

“Me, I yell at my wife.  And yell at the telephone and the lawn mower.  I yell at the TV and the newspaper and my children and sometimes other people’s children.  I’ve been known to shake my fist and yell at the sky at times.

“The man next door yells at his car a lot.  And this summer I heard him yell at a stepladder for the most of the afternoon.  We modern, urban, educated folks yell at traffic and umpires and bills and banks and answering machines - especially machines.  Machines and relatives get most of the yelling.

“Don’t know what good it does.  Machines and things just sit there.  Even kicking doesn’t always help.  As for people, well the Solomon Islanders may have a point.  Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them.  Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts....”

Tim Woodward, Evangelist
Smithville church of Christ