Action follows thought, emotion, and speech. They are all inter-related. When we talk or think badly of someone, when we place labels, then we diminish them to something less than human. Terrorists, gays, Jews, stoners...it doesn't matter. Labels create barriers that block empathy and compassion, allowing the ego - the scared and selfish little part of our mind - to treat others as something other than an honorable human being.
How could someone walk into a night club and slaughter fifty human beings? Actions follow thought and speech. These people were no longer human to the perpetuator. They were "freaks". He saw something he didn't understand. He saw something that scared him and so he created a label. They were no longer human. They no longer deserved to be treated with dignity and respect.
While you may never take another human life, how do your thoughts and speech affect your treatment of others? Do you categorize all bankers as greedy? Do you demean and treat them as other than human? Are people without a home entitled to the same dignity as people with a home? If I grow my hair long, am I any less human?
Right speech- mindful speech and thought - is important. It is as important for your spiritual health as any other step of the eight-path. It is important to the well-being of the human race.
Right Speech, as the third step of the Noble Eightfold Path, cultivates abstinence from unwholesome mind states; gives expression to the beautiful motivations of lovingkindness, compassion, and altruistic joy; and, most importantly, aligns us with what is true. - Joseph Goldstein
Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living
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