Monday, March 17, 2014

The Power of Words

"When we have many beautiful words being used, we will have a happy society." This headline expresses the opinion of a priest in View from the Ark in the Catholic Times. He reminds us of the last words of Cardinal Kim before he died: "Thank you, I love you." When he heard these words for the first time he considered them too common to give them much attention, but pondering the words now they have taken on a great deal of meaning. Are there any other words that give more warmth and move the heart as much? How many times during the day do we express such feelings? he asks.

The words we use have a great deal of power. People we admire are generally those who have a habit of using positive words and being enthusiastic, frequently using words of hope and encouragement. On the other hand, those who are failures often express grievances and give up, using all kinds of excuses, which the priest believes is not by accident. There is a Chinese proverb: "Good clothes keep a person's body warm and good words keep a person's heart warm." Encouragement, appreciation, praise--all move the heart. "People move toward the direction in which  they are praised" is an expression often heard.  A word of kindness can do a great deal to one living in darkness.

On the opposite side, a word  that is uttered without thought can often scar a person for life.  When we degrade, belittle or abuse another,  we are activating hate within that person and  giving them the strength to retaliate. Nowadays, on the Internet and, particularly on the social networks, there are a great many malicious comments and personal attacks which have contributed to persons killing themselves. The police who have investigated these cases say they have found that those who are sending out the malicious content frequently are innocent young people and adults who have good jobs and are good citizens, but are oblivious to the harm they are doing. This is a standing problem that  society needs to  eradicate, he says.

The words we use express our personality. They convey what is in our heart and mind. With words a wise person manifests their dignity and maintains  good relationships with others. As we continue to cultivate our personalities, he urges us to work to refine the words we use.

It is said that a habit that begins at the  age of three will often continue to be a habit at the age of eighty. Once it becomes a habit, it is difficult to change. That is the reason, he says, parents have the responsibility to teach their children the importance of the words we use. For we can sin with our words, causing harm to ourselves, but to others as well.  

We don't see words with our eyes, the priest reminds us, but they do have shape and can influence lives. Which means we should be responsible for our words, especially true for those in positions of authority, such as politicians who should have the welfare of citizens in mind.  One of our politicians, who repeatedly made the same mistake in his speeches, was forced to resign. A warning to all of us, the priest points out.

Words are like the seed that we plant in the garden. Good words will bear good fruit, and bad words will bear bad fruit. There are few things as easy as uttering words, but we should be mindful that with the ease comes the possibility of easily hurting others. When we use right and caring words, our society becomes a warmer, happier society. Are these thoughts unrealistic? he asks. He hopes not.

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