Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. These words are attributed to former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
In reality however, people do talk about people more often then is necessary. And unfortunately much of the time, it is not that favorable.
What’s worse, is that words seem to be harmless. And as a result we even convince ourselves that we are innocent. So yes, we can say something derogatory about someone, but we say to ourselves, so what, it doesn’t really matter.
The truth is what we say about others makes a world of difference, both positively and negatively. Words can either build or destroy lives, literally.
In a most brilliant insight into the name of this week’s Torah portion “Emor” (speak) the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that on certain occasions it is in fact a “Mitzvah” to speak.
He quotes Maimonides who says “Each man is commanded to love each and every one of Israel as himself as the verse states: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Therefore, one should speak the praises of others.”
If we analyze Maimonides statement we uncover a truth about building positive relationships that can profoundly change our lives.
What he is saying is, that just by talking positively about another person, in itself creates a liking towards them. Speech is powerful. For by speaking about someone we are also creating a corresponding emotional dynamic towards that person, which is either positive or negative.
So the choice is ours. One which is very simple. Do we want to love or to hate? Do we want to build or to destroy?
We make our choice with the words we use when speaking about others. Do we praise people or do we reprimand them. Do we seek the good in them or do we only look for the bad in them.
Can you imagine a world where people only spoke good about people? How would it change their lives? How would it affect your life? How would it impact the world?
Try it for one day. See what happens...