"Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me."

We've all heard this old children's rhyme, but is it true?

Honestly, if it is true we all need to pack it in and quit writing.

Words are powerful. They hurt, bring joy, anger, understanding. They can destroy and they can heal and the effect can last a lifetime. They can push someone over the ledge and they can talk someone down from that ledge.

They are perhaps the human beings most powerful weapon.

A quick look at the news these days will show you how toxic the political climate around the world has become. Personally I've never seen it this bad and I'm not a young person.

Carole, Darren and myself are a very diverse trio from different parts of the world and we hold different viewpoints on many things. But one thing that all three of us agree on is this:

WF needs to be a place where all of us can learn and promote the craft of writing. No matter what our religion, nationality, sexual orientation, and yes, political beliefs.

We already have a no debate rule in place. But people are people and under the guise of 'discussion' debates manage to slip through the cracks of that rule.

We have no desire to stifle people's opinions and have allowed many such 'discussions' to go unchallenged as long as they have remained civil.

The problem comes in when someone starts to disparage the opposing viewpoint with casual name calling or painting everyone with that viewpoint as if they are deranged in some way and unworthy of being allowed to have an opinion.

These comments carry the inference that to think otherwise is complete madness. Even if those remarks aren't aimed at a specific member it is still very insulting. Then when other members pile on with the back-slaps and the validation of such comments, it only compounds the problem and sends the message to other members that it is okay to make such comments.

So what do we do about it without going into full censorship mode?

The only way to truly address it is for us, as members, to be mindful of what we are saying. To think before we casually assign a group of people with different viewpoints to an 'us' and 'them' category or denigrate them as unworthy. We go back to that children's rhyme:

Sticks and stones will indeed break bones, but words can and do cut much deeper.