In the Dr. Seuss book The Sneetches and Other Stories, one of the short pieces is entitled Too Many Daves. It tells us of a woman, Mrs. McCave, who had 23 sons…and she named them all Dave. Seuss describes with his typical flourish how she had wished she hadn’t done that, and how confusing life is at their house: chaos ensues every time she calls out for one of the Daves. And the post script to the tale describes to us how Mrs. McCave wished she had given them a plethora of other names, “but she didn’t do it; and now it’s too late.”
The friend who introduced me to this story in my university days used it to illustrate how crucial the manner in which we use our words is, because once we let them out of our mouths, they are out! He implored us to be mindful that, each and every time any of us speaks, we have a choice about what kind of words we are going to use. Will we tell the truth or not? Will we use words that build up someone else, or tear them down? When we choose words that we later regret, like a lie that catches up to us or something that is terribly hurtful to someone else, we might have wished that we’d told the truth or chosen to say something positive (or to just stay silent), but like Mrs. McCave in Seuss’ story, we might find that it is too late, and our words have already done damage. While we can issue apologies, our best use of words is to use them wisely in the first place. At Thinking Forward, as we are dedicated to helping eliminate bullying from our schools and from our city, we know the power of words to harm…but also to help. It’s our urge that all of us would use words that won’t cause regret – from us or from anyone who hears them!