My word

Published February 15, 2024

By Lib Campbell

We have lived in times when a person’s word was his bond. The word was trustworthy and true, something we could count on. We believed a person at his word. The idiom, “take me at my word,” in a time where truth is fungible, lie is acceptable, and alternative facts are normative, cannot stand. It no longer has meaning.
Harvey Spector and Mike Ross epitomize the broken word. In Suits, they offer their word like they have cotton candy in their mouths. One swallow and the word is broken. They have made nine seasons of television on the broken word. 
Broken words in the real world have serious consequences. If I tell you I will protect you on one hand, then tell an arch enemy to “do whatever the hell you want to do,” my broken word will cause great harm. Harm beyond just you and me. 
In history, people in positions of power have spoken words that lift and inspire us. “There is nothing to fear but fear itself” (FDR). “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” (JFK). “I dream of the day when a person will be judged not by the color of his skin, but for the content of his character” (MLK). Their words bonded us in hope and aspiration for who we can be in the world. These words shaped us to be better than we were for the sake of all people, for world leadership, for justice and good in the world.
When we hear the words of a presidential candidate dangling dictatorship, promising retribution and revenge, inviting Russia to do “whatever the hell they want to do” with our allies, we need to believe him at his word. There are those who dismiss the insanity as showmanship. But over and over we see the vitriol inspire and spin up a crowd to the verge of violence and beyond, even to an insurrection on our capital and an attempt to overthrow the peaceful transfer of power. 
We cannot ignore words that incite violence. We cannot let this go unchecked if we expect to keep peace and world order. The pejorative “you Democrats” or “you progressives” cannot dissuade us from speaking truth as we see it. We are living in a time when one of our political parties has gone off the rails, and a volatile presidential candidate is an existential threat to our democracy. 
We need to hear and believe Donald Trump at his word. His words are frightening. When I watch FOX news, there is little revealing the madness that is Trump and his followers. When congressmen are shown calling insurrectionists “hostages” and the storming of the Capital on January 6, 2021, “an ordinary tour of the building,” they must have to warp their minds so much, their consciences are squashed. They forget we saw the whole seditious act on live television in real time. 
The courts and the congress have failed us in many instances. The electorate is the last hope of curbing the danger. The Senate should have impeached Donald Trump when it had an opportunity. Their failure is written in the history books. Now it is up to us, we who vote. The North Carolina Primary is on March 5th. Bring your ID and register at the polls.
Time is short between now and the General Election in November. A lot of us had hoped that Trump would be in our rear-view mirror by now, but alas. He is here, careening toward a nomination. His shocking words are becoming an everyday thing. The guard rails are falling off. Time to sing a rousing chorus, “People get ready”.
When our word is no longer our bond. When our words are hate-filled and harsh. When we lose our way toward righteousness, mercy, and justice, we have nowhere to turn, except to God. 
In these days of Lent, repentance is our work. We can only come to repentance when we first confess. If I am wrong in my assessment of our state of affairs, I will know it in my heart and I will apologize. 
I give you my word.
Lib Campbell is a retired Methodist pastor, retreat leader, columnist and host of the blogsite She can be contacted at