Reverence for Words

I have a proper reverence for guns. They are incredible tools that feed the hunter and protect the vulnerable. They are also incredible weapons, defeating armies, oppressing entire populations, and killing men from great distances.

My handling of guns reflects my appreciation for their power and the potential danger they represent. I would not toss my pistol to you from across a crowded room. I would probably not hand it over without checking the breach, the safety, and ensuring you knew how to properly handle a weapon. I would certainly not fire my pistol wildly in public, or fire it at you when you made me mad. 

I recognize that guns don’t kill people- careless and homicidal people kill people.

There is a tool I possess which caries far more creative and destructive power than any gun- my words. 

Words feed the hunter. With words, I gain employment, engage in trade, learn about opportunity and dangers, and navigate the world of men safely and profitably.

Words protect the vulnerable. With words I cry out against danger for me and for my community. With words I voice my support for Right, and my solidarity with my neighbors.

Words hold incredible and lasting creative powers. With words, democracy is born, rights are expressed, nations are sown together spanning entire continents. Through words, democracy, rights, and unity last from generation to generation.

Words create people and communities. My Self is given form through my words- both in my mind and the world outside. Through my words, the Self asserts itself on the world, and establishes its presence and membership in a community. Through words, communities invite like-minded individuals in, and make them feel welcomed and safe. Identity is created through words.

Words enrich and strengthen. With words we build others up, give them confidence, and tell them to reach for the sky. With words we teach children and adults new ideas, new skills, new perspectives…

Words have a reach. With words can one man stomp out an evil in the hearts of many. Without ever meaning to, and without ever seeing a man, the words of a wise person can turn a heart or mind from ignorance. Even across generations, long after the original speaker has passed on, words can sway a mind to follow a better path.

Words defeat armies and guide the body corporate to success. With words, we band together and organize to fight off enemies and dangers. With words the worthy are identified and established as leaders. With words they lead and inspire, guide and even mold the masses.

Conversely, words oppress and exploit. With words are great nations led down paths of hate. With words are the strong turned against the weak, instead of protecting them. With words are genocide covered up or downplayed, justified, and consented to. With words are neighbors convinced to kill and annihilate one another, where once there would have been waves and smiles.

Words can kill from a distance. With words we assassinate characters, with words we demonize and vilify. With words are peoples and employees turned against their loving leaders. What cannot be accomplished with a gun, or by crossing a border with an army, many accomplish with words. Even petty people, who haven’t the strength or courage to face their adversaries, will employ words to crush their enemies.

Words create fear and terror. Through words people are made to fear themselves, the world around them, to fear poverty, to fear not belonging, to fear inadequacy, to fear difference, to fear individuality…. Fear is entirely personal and the result of direct experience- until we use words to spread fear.

Words limit and constrain. Through words we shape attitudes and behavioral norms. Through words we stop people from reaching for the highest goals. With words we convince both children and adults they ‘shalt not’, can not, will not, must not…

Words destroy people. With words we cut people down, crush their spirits and self-image. With words we isolate people and break down their relationships. With words we betray. With words we hurt. With words young and vulnerable people are moved to suicide.

While words themselves don’t create or destroy, today I choose to handle them with more care than I would any gun.

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3 thoughts on “Reverence for Words

  1. I have a Thich Nhat Hanh book open to a chapter called “Unmindful Speech Can Kill.” Coincidence? Great delineation of the power of words. I, too, will be more careful and mindful of my word-use. {{{hugs]}} Kozo

    • Been taking in some Thich Nhat Hanh. Listened to a lecture called Being Love today. Very easy to follow, very simple teachings, yet profound.

      Really hits me how important being present and mindful of each moment is, and mindful of the experience of being there with someone.

      You may not have gone ‘viral’, but you inspire, you lead, you teach, and you share things worth more than money to someone like me (and to others, I’m sure).

      Cheers 🙂

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