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Mar 10

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The Amazing Power of Words

How often do we underestimate the power of words? Today we are bombarded by words from all directions. The internet, the media, the blogosphere – wherever and whatever it is – we are inundated. Ironically, people say that reading levels are down, that people don’t buy books like they used to, that we are regressing as readers. I say that’s a load of crap, but this isn’t about encouraging reading. This is about words.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 KJV)”

It’s not often that I quote from The Bible. But this quote, from the King James version of The Bible, is my first example of how religion, philosophy, psychology, society, writers, film makers, and artists have acknowledged the power of words. A word does not have to be written to have power. It can be spoken. It can be sung. When will we realize that what you say and how you say it have tremendous power.

“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.”  Remember this school yard comeback? It probably died out after I left elementary school. Yet this school yard chant signifies how wrong we are!

We are wrong because bullying is such a hot topic in our societies here in the western countries today. I specifically mention western countries because I honestly don’t believe that other nations such as Russia, China, India, all the countries of Africa, and more have any notion of the effects of bullying. Bullying is a factor now as it has always been in schools. As a part of childhood development when I was growing up it was basically a right of passage. At some time in your life you would face a bully. You had to figure out how to deal with it.

It would not exist without words. Physically bullying is evident. A big guy pushes around a little guy. The big guy instills fear. He is the bully. But bullying is some much more than being pushed around. Bullying is a coping mechanism adults teach children. It’s roots are in thoughts, which extend to words, which translates to self expression.

Now with the development of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, and more you can express whatever you want to express. The problem is so many people, young and old, believe they can carelessly use their words to judge and criticize pictures, posts, comments, what have you. There is a startling exhibition of abject cruelty out there. People have been vicious and mean. They believe they can be so because of the perceived anonymity of their presence and comments. Those affected by the bullying on social media have actually committed suicide believe that it is their only course of action to release their fear, anger, embarrassment, and sorrow. They are all wrong.

Wrongness – a misperception of being right. Let’s talk about how wrong people can be. First, the willy nilly commentary, judgements and abuse of the power of words. Let’s talk libel. The word libel is a legal term defining the publication of a false statement that results in the damage to the character of subject the statement, a written defamation. Libel is real and subject to legal action. I suspect as abuse on the internet persists we will see more and more libel suits. Or how about slander? Slander is the spoken version of libel. When you slander someone in the media you have been caught on tape speaking poorly of them and if that damages their character then it’s illegal. In the everyday world this is usually called gossip.

Would we have words such as libel and slander if words weren’t openly acknowledged as powerful? Can we not see that the old school yard comeback is a misperception?

This is really in need of correction. So, how do we approach it? I propose this notion: hurtful thought produce hurtful actions, which produce hurtful consequences, which result in hurt inevitably returning to the person that dealt the original thought.

At times like this I think about my reading and my personal development and I recall the first rule, or in this case “agreement” from Don Miguel Ruiz’s best-seller called The Four Agreements:

four_agreements

The First Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word. I tell you, following this agreement alone can change your life. It consists of these guidelines: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love. That’s it!

Seems simple when you write it down, right? But how simple is it. I know for a fact that if we were to follow this as a civilization, to the letter, then almost all of the magazines in the market checkout line will disappear. Think about it – Gossip. How often do people love to gossip? I know some people that don’t think they could live without it. But you can, because it comes down to words.

Words. Words are powerful. Everyone knows it but they don’t want to take responsibility for it. Take responsibility for your words.

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