How many words are in the English language? In fact, if we take all the languages and combine them, how many words will we have in total? How many words can we use to hurt, to help, to comfort, to anger? How many words can we use to affect others, and how many can affect ourselves? Words are simple, really, composed of shapes dotted and twisted into symbols, into patterns, into a language that we recognize. But words, no matter how simple they may seem, hold immense power. How often do you stop and think that having a written and spoken language is a blessing? How often have you considered the importance of words in your daily life? I’d guess not very often. Instead of contemplating the existence of our languages, most of us just continue to use these methods of communication. They are such an important part of our lives that we rarely realize it, and they are so basic to our daily interactions that we wouldn’t be able to function without them. They are capable of shaping our world and the way we see things, and are also the basis of society itself. Not only that, but the symbols that make up our languages, strung together into words and sentences and paragraphs and books filled cover to cover with the black print that holds so much meaning and so much knowledge, are capable of creating whole new universes for us to enjoy, and new people for us to learn about and understand.
Where would we be if humanity had never developed the mechanism of language? Would we still act like the ancient cavemen who had little to no knowledge and acted like primates? Would we have been able to expand and improve and learn as we have now? Without words, ideas would never have been able to spread accurately, technology and society would never have advanced, and we would be lacking an ability that has become fundamental to interactions between people. Without words, we wouldn’t have been able to understand as much as we do now, we would be stuck with abstract ideas and representations that are interpreted differently by each person who saw them, and we wouldn’t have access to this method of making people understand through more direct means.
Our language, whether written or spoken, is like magic, capable of so many things we rarely think about. And through these words, we achieve the magic of communication, rendering us capable of spreading messages, teaching ideas and interacting with others. And through our interactions, we learn more about our differences, our similarities, and everything in between. Our languages and the world that we have created through them can be used positively, to improve our lives and to motivate each other. But so many people insist on using words as a weapon. Every day, all over the world, there are people who fall victims to wounds, not necessarily to the physical body, but to the heart. And sure, we can’t see these cuts and cracks and fractures in a person’s thoughts, their feelings, and their souls. But they still hurt just as much. No blood is shed, and people carelessly dismiss the effects of their scathing remarks, but verbal barbs hurled at each other mercilessly damage more than it seems. No matter how much we regret what we said, even if we’ve already been forgiven, the echoes of these words linger on and are never forgotten. The cut is just too deep to fade away as if nothing had ever happened. And it will be a reminder to us in the future, that sometimes things are better left unsaid.
So I ask, why? Why do we insist on hurting others when we, ourselves, understand how that feels? Why is it that praise and encouragement come in small doses, while negativity is poured upon us in buckets? We spend so much time putting others down, belittling them, making them feel insignificant, and for what reason? Because we feel more powerful? Because it shows us, reassures us, that we’re better than them? Because somehow bringing others pain gives us a twisted sense of accomplishment, of superiority? Our society has progressed so much, amending biases towards people, focusing on equality. Yet still, we aren’t even able to acknowledge that by laughing at someone and making fun of them, and by trying to elevate ourselves by demeaning others, we have not evolved. In fact, we have simply lowered ourselves.
Words are a powerful tool, and they strike deeper than we realize. They can be used to convince, to manipulate, to make people understand, just as I am using them now. But at the same time, these same words that were used for communication, for building bonds and strengthening them, can hold great destructive power. An offhand comment can ruin a relationship, a friendship, or simple trust. So much can be effected without us realizing. So we have to begin to understand that what we’ve said, whether carelessly or after deep thought, affects our surroundings and can change our perspective. How we see the world, and how the world sees us in return are changed by our thoughts and words.The tongue appears to be a small thing. But through the words that we speak, it gains and holds incredible power. This power, these words, are capable of impacting our lives more than we realize. Words hold power, and how that power is used, is entirely up to the person who puts them together and how they decide to wield it. Whether for good or for evil, power exists in speech, so choose your words carefully.