All of us deal with words, usually everyday, in our communication with the people in our lives, and with much of the world around us. (Some people, like your humble author, even talk to the cobwebs in the ceiling corner, or to the pile of dishes in the sink. They may not be able to reply, but I'm sure the dishes are relieved to know that they will soon be sparkling clean, and the cobwebs probably either tremble in fear at their imminent demise, or just shrug nonchalantly, knowing that there is often a gap between statement of intent and action, especially where cobwebs and I are concerned.)
I grew up with many aphorisms and proverbs about the importance of the courteous use of language. Most of us did. And yet, either by careless use of words, or by intent, our words can be hurtful weapons.
Perhaps it is better to be like the wise owl in the verse:
A wise old owl
Sat on an oak
The more he saw,
The less he spoke.
The less he spoke,
The more he heard.
Wasn't he a wise old bird?
The impulse to speak up is so strong, that we often do not really think about the consequences of our speech, and much of the time it is inconsequential anyway. Some polite conversation, some chit-chat about the weather, about the kids and their holidays- blah blah blah. Mostly harmless.
But some conversations, whether oral or written, can get so painful or so personal, it is good to remember the old saying about speaking only if your words are true, kind, and necessary. So many relationships falter because of harmful, unnecessary words. Our emotions are probably more visceral than verbal, but once they are verbalised, or triggered off by certain key words, they do take firm root in ones thoughts, and often take on a life of their own. Of course this is far more likely to happen with negative emotions and negative verbal inputs, since we often take all the positives in our lives as our birthright.
It's a tough balancing act, finding one's equilibrium between stoic, uncommunicative silence and effervescent 'chatterboxness'. But the three gateways are a useful guide- let our words escape our lips/pens/keyboards only if they are worth being uttered by virtue of being true, kind and necessary.