I believe in the power of words.
There are hundreds of thousands of words in the English language. No doubt there are thousands more or less in the differing languages around the world. Words are the most primal tool human beings have for survival. And as simple, yet practical as this tool may seem, I believe it is the most significant.
Some of my fondest memories as a child were the weekly trips to my local library with my mom. The words of those childhood stories, helped to early cultivate my mind, plant the seeds of knowledge and ripen the fruits of my imagination.
Throughout history, entire eras were forged on the backs of words spoken by the influential and the ostensibly meek.
The words of the World War II era echoed with prose born of hate and glorified prejudice spoken by men like Hitler. The era also resounded with words of the reassurance of hope and a uniting humility spoken by Roosevelt.
7 words that strengthened the nation’s seemingly broken bond: ‘A day which will live in infamy’. These words will steadfastly hold that bond together even after the last veteran of that era has passed on.
The words of Martin Luther King Jr. spoken during the Civil Rights era prove to be the beacon that shed a hope filled light on a Promised Land.
A land which King and many other leaders of that era would never live to see.
The last great battle and slogan of the freedom fighter consisted of just 4 words:
‘I am a man’.
A few simple, stinging and poignant words. Nothing else needed to be said.
But still, after the last photos of a black veiled, weeping Coretta were snapped and began to fade into time’s yellow tint, the words of the man still boom and rattle the inhabitants of lands coast to coast. They are the ghosts reminding us that we all still have an obligation to fulfill a dream that has not yet quite come to fruition.
I believe words have the power to intimidate and hurt.
Words are jeered by children on playgrounds to any peer that has the audacity or the misfortune to stray from the crowd, turning their back on the unspoken codes of juvenile complacency.
Words have been uttered by people who use them like machetes to cut away, dehumanize and strip individuals of their uniqueness, humanness and beauty.
These words slip easily over boundaries and are freely exchanged across color lines.
Although words have the power to cause destruction and pain, I also believe they have the distinct power to connect people and heal life’s wounds.
Peace. Hope. Courage. Love. Compassion.
These are just words. They are intangible. They cannot be bought or sold. But I truly believe that these simple, yet practical tools for human survival have to power to inspire passion and evoke feelings that have powers to transform into actions. And we must remember that these actions have the power to influence and connect us all.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.