War of words

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Think a minute….In the year 1899, four American newspaper reporters were searching for a story.

They each worked for a different newspaper in the city of Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.

By chance they ended up together one Saturday evening when all four of them were desperately needing a story to publish the next morning in the Sunday edition. For them, “no news was bad news” when facing a deadline just hours away!

Finally, they decided just to make up a story about something that happened far away in another part of the world, since it would be harder to check for truth and accuracy. Remember, this was over a hundred years ago before television, satellites, and the Worldwide Web. 

After much discussion they came up with the unbelievable story that the Chinese government was tearing down their Great Wall of China to show international goodwill and welcome foreign business trade from other nations. The story said that some American engineers were coming to China to bid on the job of helping demolish the Great Wall. Remember, none of this was true! Well, by 11 o’clock Saturday night these four reporters had worked out all the details for this far-out, false story to be published the next morning in each of their four different newspapers.

They never expected anyone to believe their obviously fake and phony story.

But to the reporters’ shock, people did believe it! When the news reached the Chinese that the Americans were sending engineers to tear down their Chinese national monument, naturally they were extremely offended and angry!

One group of Chinese patriots even rioted and attacked embassies, killing hundreds of foreigners. In fact, this imaginary story and hoax, made up by four news reporters, contributed to the international conflict and bloodshed in China known as the Boxer Rebellion. 

The power of our words can be used for great good or great evil. Even what we think are just small jokes, gossip or white lies can deeply wound, even destroy, people. Won’t you ask Jesus to forgive you, and to help you control what you say—before you start a war of words that hurts your family, friends or others?

Just think a minute… 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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