All living creatures communicate, though we humans don’t usually know what they’re telling each other. Even trees have a silent language, the roots of giant sequoias sharing sustenance in times of drought. But so far as we know, only we humans have invented thousands of languages and dialects—great gifts that can be used both for good and for evil. We can use language to manipulate, bully, tear others down, deceive. All of these misuses have been around for a long time, but because of social media, they have a much wider, more destructive reach. That’s tragedy enough, but the real tragedy would be if human societies stopped recognizing the difference, let’s say, between lies and truth, or stopped caring. Using language to deceive subverts human relationships and our relationship with God, who is Truth. Can we reclaim language so that it does its intended work—create, teach, learn, unite, build each other up?
By Mara Faulkner, OSB