From my childhood on, I have been taught about the power of words. The ditty went “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This made perfect sense back then; however, today we know that long after our bones heal, mean, nasty words hurt us and have a devastating effect.

Words come in two camps—positive and negative, and depending on the intent, circumstance, and speaker, there are a million stops in between. Words lift our spirit or cut us off at the knees.

During my time at home I have been cleaning out closets, drawers, and bins, and I found a pen last week with one of those pull-out messages that reminds you to think before you speak. The tiny message said, “Before you speak, ask these three questions: Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary?”

I received that pen years ago and while it didn’t still write, the message was more timely than ever as I listened to Presidents Obama and Trump this weekend. The media called President Obama’s national graduation speech a “thinly-veiled” criticism of President Trump’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic. I don’t know about you, but if that was thinly veiled, I’d hate to see an outright accusation.

President Trump promptly responded with words of his own, calling his predecessor “grossly incompetent” even though he said he hadn’t heard the Obama comment. Here was a perfect opportunity to use the “true, kind, and necessary” measuring stick but both of them missed it.

I have never been President of the United States, nor do I have any aspirations for such, but I expect more from leaders than thinly-veiled criticisms and put-downs of their colleagues. Even if they thought they were speaking truth to power, surely this exchange wasn’t helpful, kind, or necessary.

Second guessing and Monday morning quarterbacking aside, this COVID-19 pandemic is like nothing we’ve seen in our lifetime, at least for most of us. There are so many moving parts and voices spewing information most days we don’t know whether to stay home, wear a mask or gloves, or who really knows what they’re talking about.

It makes sense to rely on our experts and data-driven analysis but when politics and spin enter the conversation and things become highly politicized, we all lose.

Here’s what I know: first, politicians must clean up their act. We must insist that those seeking office stop the negative campaigning. They must speak truth and act honorably. If that means they don’t get elected/re-elected, so be it.

Second, we must expect honesty and integrity from those who work for us. Partisan politics have no place during this time of growing unemployment and job losses. The news reports show families seriously struggling with hunger, almost homelessness, depression, domestic violence, the prospect of losing it all—the list goes on while Democrats and Republicans argue about whose agenda they will support.

Our representatives must strategically get the U.S. back on her feet, and somebody must be in charge of oversight, overreach, and emergency preparedness. These people who look out for us must be protected so when—not if– something smells fishy or goes awry, they can work without fear of being fired, bullied, undermined, or banished.

Words are powerful and these from Philippians 4:8 (KJV) seem perfect today: “Finally, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

What are your thoughts about speaking with mindfulness? Share them with me at #drbondhopson on Twitter and Facebook!

Looking for inspiration, empowerment, uplift, straight talk, an encouraging word to brighten your day? You’ve arrived! Meet Dr. Cynthia Ann Bond Hopson, best-selling author, educator, inspirational speaker, sistergirl–she’s all that and more. All the way from Stanton, TN (you can’t get there from here) to 50 states, six continents and everything in between, she’s wise, witty and altogether wonderful. She enthusiastically invites you to slow down, sit a spell, and share a giggle or two.

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