On Wednesday morning - which, for anyone watching Parliament on Tuesday evening, felt very much like the morning after the night before - we had these words from Psalm 15 at Morning Prayer:
O Lord, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?
Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right,
and speak the truth from their heart;
who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends,
nor take up a reproach against their neighbours...
And then I thought of these words from the Letter of James (1:19):
You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger...
Whatever else is going on, whatever rights and wrongs we think we can identify in our present near-calamitous political situation, one thing stands out from what we've seen and heard recently: words matter. And, going further, words can be hurtful, even dangerous.
I think of something I used to say to my children (and no doubt, failed to live up to): "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". Perhaps everyone who speaks in public - whose words are likely to be endlessly shared, and will have who knows what influence on those who hear them - should be given a little copy of this advice, along with James' wise words.
We need words spoken calmly, gently, with the humility that comes from knowing we don't have the whole truth and our adversaries aren't always wrong.