The Power of Words

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
I wrote this for my students to open their minds to the power they have been granted: to use words.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. Enjoy.

Submitted: October 05, 2018

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Submitted: October 05, 2018



The Power of Words


To those who have ever stated the phrase, “they are only words,” I would like to submit for your approval an argument that proves just how powerful words can be. I submit this argument as a writer, as a teacher, as a student of life, and as a human-being sharing this earth with the rest of the world. I write this article with empathy for those who have felt sadness after being called something derogatory, with honor for the ones who taught me to express myself through the written word and with love for those who choose to not heed my message as well as those who lend me their ears. Most importantly, I need to point out: you are reading words right now.

Before man invented the wheel or became enamored with fire, he more than likely communicated with a series of grunts and gestures. At least this is how Hollywood portrayed the caveman and it is absolutely believable. Think about it. These are the people who supposedly created the wheel and discovered fire. Man was just learning to survive under the harshest of conditions. How could he possibly have had the time to develop language concepts such as nouns, verbs or better yet onomatopoeia? Early humans were known as “hunters and gatherers.” The earliest signs of writing were primitively drawn pictures known as pictographs. Vowels and consonants were non-existent. As we evolved so did our language and our ability to communicate.

So, just how many ways do we communicate today? I’m glad you asked. We can communicate digitally using e-mail, text, blog, or a messenger. We can even communicate face to face using Skype or Facetime. We can talk over the phone be it land line or cell. Emergency services use walkie-talkies. We can use pen or pencil to paper and write down what we would like to convey either to ourselves or someone else. We can even speak publicly through speeches and announcements. These are just a few ways of communicating and yet they all have something in common. They all use words.

If I had students, they’d probably be saying something like, “We get it Mr. Roman. We use words to communicate; big deal. So what? They are still just words.”

Au contraire! You see, words speak directly to our brain. They don’t just make us do things when the words formulate a request from a friend or a demand from an authoritative figure. They also make us feel and with feelings come reactions.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote speeches that motivated an entire movement to break racial barriers. Adolf Hitler motivated an entire nation to move to war using speeches that generated both anger and fear. Bruce Lee revolutionized Martial Arts writing “The Tao of Jeet Kun Do.” J.K. Rowling raised an entire generation of young wizards with her Harry Potter series which went on to become an entire area of a Universal Studios Theme Park. These are just a few minor examples of the true power of words. Words can spark and carry movements, they can lead entire nations to war, they can bring about changes or even capture the imagination of an entire generation. This happens because words speak to our brains and in return our brains respond.

This is the way we are built. We are built to communicate and made to feel. If we weren’t we would have no vocal chords or central nervous system. If we weren’t truly built to communicate; our bodies would be devoid of posture and our hands would sit perfectly at our sides. Thankfully, we are creatures of habit who all show our emotions in ways that we develop over time. Regrettably, we sometimes take for granted the sheer fact that we are an animal capable of comprehending emotion: feelings.

We feel, so that we know we are alive. We are made to feel sadness so we may know just how much something means to us when it is lost. We are made to feel happy so we may know what it is we truly enjoy. We are made to feel fear so that our survival instincts can activate - sparking an adrenalin rush to go with our fight or flight mechanism. Since the list is almost infinitely endless the point to be made is simple: We are designed to feel things and words activate those feelings.

It is agreeable that words to tear someone down are often weak words with little meaning or substance. Yes, these are, “just words.” However, these words (like all others) are spoken directly to someone’s brain. They influence someone to feel small, to feel helpless, and to feel insecure. I ask you, is that not powerful? If done enough times, a person who is constantly assaulted by words will react, thus the power of words becomes very apparent. People who are bombarded with negativity on a constant basis could go on to hurt themselves or others. Telling someone, “these are just words,” will not change the words ability to affect the human brain.

You see words are the proverbial double edged sword of human interaction. Words can be used to build, protect and create or they can be used to destroy, cause harm and cause fear. We must recognize this power and harness it. Once we do, we can then realize our own inner-strength and beauty. Then and only then will words only be words.

© Copyright 2019 James Alexander. All rights reserved.

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