Words Really Do Matter

March 11, 2008

Ken Connor had a column recently entitled "Words Really Do Matter." Here are few highlights:

Frustrated at her opponent's success in the quest for her party's nomination for President of the United States, Hillary Clinton has suggested that Barack Obama is all talk and no action.

... Mrs. Clinton is right that mere talk is not enough to qualify one to serve as President of the United States, but she is wrong in underestimating the importance of rhetoric on the campaign trail. Rhetoric is profoundly important. Words really do matter.

Words are the vehicles through which we transmit ideas, and since ideas have consequences, words have consequences. Words shape our beliefs, and what we believe determines how we behave. Therefore, words inspire behavior. Mark Twain understood this when he said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."

... The words of the Declaration of Independence inspired men to give their lives in pursuit of the ideas embodied in it. Abraham Lincoln changed the course of history when he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. Martin Luther King's oratory inspired the nation to finally live up to the ideals of its founding. Edward R. Murrow, in lionizing Winston Churchill, said that he "mobilized the English language and sent it into battle."

... Words are not empty vessels. They are pregnant with meaning and laden with content. They evoke images and transmit feelings. They can hurt or heal, and cause anger or heartache or comfort. The writer of Ephesians understood this when he adjured his readers, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Eph. 4:29 NIV) The writer of Proverbs acknowledged that words have impact when he wrote, "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (Prov. 12:18 NIV)
Amen! Regardless of what one may think about the various candidates, it is good to be reminded that words do matter.