Monday, June 7, 2010

Just Words?

Going through school growing up, the particular curriculum we used often went over the importance of words for communication (in case you ever thought to whine over your English assignments :P ). To me it made perfect sense. I mean, have you ever made the rash vow as a child "I'm not going to talk to you for the rest of the day!" And then have you tried to carry it out? It's not easy, grunting [in syllables of the words we want to say, no less] and gesturing like some sort of ape, trying to get our message across. Words are rather important to our everyday life!
Yet in spite of the importance of words, I think they have been grossly devalued in our society. Our vocabulary as a whole has declined and seems to be continuing to do so. To the point where when I talk to the average 8th grader I find myself having to define half the words I use which to me seem like everyday-usage words. (thank you homeschooling LOL)  And I wasn't even word-nerdy enough to read the whole dictionary! (well maybe I was but I never got around to finishing it. :P)
I was pondering this issue this morning, trying to figure it out. I was thinking about a comedian I heard who was making a routine out of substituting the word "rose" for "fart". He was saying that it was silly when people got embarrassed over the latter word. "It's just a word!" he crowed. "Just a word"? What does that mean? Yeah, it is a word, but words happen to have this little thing called a meaning that make it more than just a random object. With words we can paint a picture or give instructions... or write blogs to share our opinions and insights. But even more than that, with words we can build up or tear down; we can kill or we can heal. Even with the absence of words we can have a great effect upon other peoples' lives.
Here's an illustration that forever engraved the power of words on my mind. My pastor called a random person from the audience up on the stage to help illustrate the point. He had the man put his arms straight out from his sides. Pastor then pushed down lightly on his arms to show the amount of pressure he was using--it was not enough to overpower the man's outstretched arms. He had the man put his arms down, then said, "repeat these six things after me," at which point he said six negative phrases in the first-person (i.e. I'm a loser, I'll never amount to much, I hate my job, etc). The man put his arms back out as before, and with no trouble the pastor was able to push them down  using the same amount of pressure as previously. Then he said "repeat these six things after me," and said six positive phrases in the first person (i.e. I'm handsome, I'm a great husband/father, I love my job, etc) then had him put his arms back out. He again applied the same amount of pressure and the man was able to hold his arms up again.
Skeptical? Try it on some unsuspecting victim. He tried this on my brother when he came to the college my brother was attending. He said it was absolutely amazing, he could NOT hold his arms up after saying those negative things.
Think they're just words? Think again. Why do you think they have the old saying "The pen is mightier than the sword" ? Why do you think the Bible warns us so many times to be careful what we say? Even when you're just joking around, be careful what you say! (guilty :oops:) It doesn't matter if you really believe what you're saying, the words themselves are that powerful. They can even eventually change how you really believe. Sometimes even making a simple, small compliment will brighten someone's entire day. Don't just take my word for it, try it!
So next time you hear someone say words aren't important, give them a reality check! Erase that rhyme about sticks and stones from your arsenal. Remember to keep your words uplifting and positive. Use them for healing rather than hate. You'd be amazed at what a difference it will make! You might even save a life. :)
~ L.E. Neighbour

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