by Terri Winder
For the most part, I love words.
I was going to say that unequivocally, as in I love words! but then remembered the times they have gotten me into trouble.
From personal experience, I’ve learned that one or two intractable words can cause all kinds of mischief. If you don’t believe me, just ask the man who said, “47 percent”, he’ll tell you.
Words are a lot like acquaintances: some seem innocent enough at the outset but become unruly in the wrong context.
Some—such as bruising sacrilege—should be rejected outright. Some become friends for life as they prove their worth.
For instance, “I’m sorry.” Those words never hurt anyone. They may not undo the hurt that preceded them, but in and of themselves, said sincerely, they’ll produce more points than any seven Scrabble letters ever could. An equally powerful eight letter phrase is “Thank you.”
Markus Zusak, the wordsmith who wrote The Book Thief, took 552 pages to say the same thing--how much words matter--as he explained how Hitler’s most powerful weapon was his persuasive rhetoric and effective propaganda.
If you think about it, you can come up with your own examples of emotionally laden words, such as Gun Control.
According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 52 percent of the population is apparently focused on the word Gun. Oddly enough, it evidently provokes more fear in people’s minds than the word Control. The first word won our freedom; the second may well revoke it.
Words are what separate us from the animal kingdom. When used prudently, they civilize us.
Evidence of the difference was given last week by North Korea’s National Defense Commission as they made the statement, “Settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words, as it regards jungle law as the rule of its survival.”
I think it would have been wise to have edited that sentence before releasing it into the world.
We are fortunate, in our own little corner of the world, to be largely surrounded by thoughtful, well-spoken people.
When Bill Boyle approached me about returning to the San Juan Record as a writer, visions of sugar plumed words began dancing in my head even as I entertained a few doubts: there’s a reason they refer to it as a deadline you know.
Also, there’s the editing the sentences before releasing them into the world thing.
I have a saying on the wall of my office:” A piece of writing is never finished, it’s only due”.
I know I won’t always find the perfect words or line them up in perfect order and that fact scares me.
Still, I count it a privilege to return to the San Juan Record and hope that if nothing else, I can share my love of words, preferably without getting into too much trouble.