You may have heard the phrase, “Stick and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” I couldn’t disagree with this more because I believe in the power of words. I believe that words are one of the most powerful tools that we as humans have, but that we should use them with caution. Not only do words allow us to effectively communicate our thoughts, feelings, opinions, and ideas, but what we say can also have a profound effect on those who hear them.
Because words create impressions, images, and expectations, the words we
choose and how we use them trigger emotional responses that can influence the thoughts,
behavior, and actions of whom they are directed to. I had to learn this the hard way.
When a younger cousin of mine would ask why I didn’t like dogs, I would show her an
old bite scar and tell her I thought they were little monsters. At the time she was very
impressionable, and to this day she still doesn’t like dogs. Now, I know this doesn’t seem
very significant, but applied to a larger scale you essentially have the method of oratory
control that Hitler used to incite violence and prejudice against the Jewish during the
Holocaust. He skillfully used words to manipulate, control, intimidate, and coerce an
entire nation into committing unspeakable crimes. He did this through powerful speeches
and endless propaganda. On the other end of the spectrum, Martin Luther King. Jr. and
other civil rights activists also used words to motivate people to take action, but by very
different methods and for very different reasons. He used words to inform the masses of wrongs committed against minorities and inspired them to do something about it.
Advertising companies, politicians, religious leaders, and many TV personalities have all
learned to harness the power of words and use them to their advantage on an every day
basis. They use certain “power” words and phrases to win your money, vote, faith, or
approval and create a positive connection in your mind with their cause.
Depending on who uses them and for what reasons, words can be either a very
constructive or destructive force. Your words can either tear someone down or build them
up. I urge all of you to harness YOUR word power, but use them wisely and when
appropriate. As Buddha once said, “Words have the power to both destroy and heal.
When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.“ So lets put down the
guns and pick up our pens, because if we use them correctly, we can change the world.
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