On May 1, 2016, a wildfire began in Fort McMurray in Alberta which have spread rapidly through the city, destroying more than 2400 homes and forcing the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta’s history. It is reported that it would cost nearly 9 Billion dollars to rebuild the damaged areas, which may make it the costliest disaster in Canadian history.
People still haven’t found out how it exactly all started, but the hot and dry climate helped the fire spread much quicker than everyone anticipated. Watching people frantically evacuate their burning home was tough. Then a Bible verse from the Book of James came up in my mind. James says just like a small fire sets the whole forest burned, our tongue is like the fire that can burn down our whole life. (James 3:6) I’ve considered it to be a mere analogy or even an exaggeration, but after watching how devastating the wildfire was, I came to realize this to be true.
Many would agree that the main reason why we get hurt in life is through words people speak. Not only abusive words hurt people, but every so often a well-meaning joke could end up hurting a good relationship badly. Just like the wildfire, no one knows exactly where it all started, but the damage is severe and many times it is uncontrollable. No wonder, James said, if anyone can perfectly control his tongue, he is a perfect man. (James 3:2)
I’ve made some bad mistakes with my words in the past, and as I looked back, I realized that the time I made most mistakes were moments when I tried too hard to keep the conversation alive. By trying to keep people entertained, I try to make some jokes, and many times they came out the wrong way.
So, the best strategy I found that works for me is this: “If you have nothing good to say, don’t say it”. Many times people get very uncomfortable with silence in conversation that they throw in words just to fill the gap. We are prone to mistakes if we do that too often. Listening more and talking less will always work in our favor. Because preventing a fire is far easier to do than to put it off once it started.