Coransee is good for catching people on a technicality. He’s a true politician in the Patternist world. He makes sure he gets his point across to his audience, but he’s always careful that his exact wording is not incriminating. This got me to thinking about the power of words, or rather, the power we give words. We attach meanings to words that go beyond their simple dictionary definitions and at their mere mention these words can drag us from giggles to tears. Then there are the omitted words. The words we choose not to say at critical moments. Sometimes the things we leave out are just as important as the ones we leave in.
Words conjure up images and contexts and all of the emotions that come along with them. Take the infamous “N’ word. It’s a 6 letter word. 2 syllables. 2 vowels. 4 consonants. A relatively short word. Not even long enough to substantiate a password on some sites. But oh, does it pack a punch. Throw that word out in the middle of the most peaceful of discussions and all of a sudden you have World War III on your hands. Because it’s not just a word. It’s the destruction of families. It’s human beings on an auction block. It’s the lynching of innocents. It’s the rape of mothers and grandmothers past. It’s a history that documents the pain of a people. You can’t just throw it in a conversation expecting people to hear “a noun most notable for its usage in a pejorative context to refer to Black people.” (thanks for that Wikipedia).
We tell children “Stick and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” But it’s a lie. Words matter. If someone knocks you down and calls you names, long after your bruises heal and your cuts scab over, the words they said will stay with you.
But on the flip side… we can use words to inspire. We can use words to bring joy and hope. Words can bring freedom and enlightenment. And of course there’s that four letter word that’s more powerful than any other. Love.
We must take care with our words. Be conscious of their meaning, and be cognizant with how we use them. When we choose our words we are choosing to change the world in some part, whether it’s one person’s world, or the world of a nation… choose wisely.