Words. Use with Caution

"The pen is mightier than the sword."

When a friend goes through troubling times, I sometimes wonder if this is true. I so long to salve the wound, but every word I say or write seems inadequate at best. Most of the time, though, the friend lets me know my words indeed made a difference. They showed I cared and understood.

I recall my earlier days when school friends and enemies alike would say something that sliced deep into my core. I tried to remember the old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me," but I instead wished they had punched me in the face instead. Bruises heal faster than cruel words. In some ways I still carry those scars.

Words can inspire as well as destroy, and I am guilty of doing both.

When I write about politics, I take the chance of insulting those who take the opposite point of view. I’ve done so on more than one occasion, to the point some readers have proclaimed never to read another word. It saddens me, but I also understand.

At the same time, my words can inspire others. I received a glimpse of that when I wrote about an ongoing controversial and highly emotional issue. I hesitate to describe further, or even point you to the entry in question, because I don’t want to appear braggadocios (one of my all-time favorite words).

One lady responded (in part): "I stand and applaud you, Andra for saying, once again, what I want to….but I’ll leave the writing to the professionals..I’m just glad I have voices out ‘there’ that makes me feel not so quite alone in this."

She then wrote her own entry with a single sentence: "Thank you, Andra, for being the voice I long to be."

I was touched by her comment and entry, but at the same time a little fearful. It’s one thing to be my own voice, but to also speak for others, that’s quite a responsibility — and a burden at times. It raises expectations, and I will not always succeed in echoing the sentiments of others.

Words indeed have power. They have built nations by inspiring others to act. They have also torn down nations by inspiring others to act. I’ve seen people destroyed with words, and others uplifted.

I hope I never take for granted the strength and power of the double-edged sword of words I wield.

Up Next:  . . . No idea . . . I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants blogger.

9 thoughts on “Words. Use with Caution

  1. I believe I have managed to thoroughly annoy several people on Facebook. I post a “teaser” note and direct people to my blog if they want to read the rest. I’ve noticed talking about Jesus being the one, true way tends to bring out people’s claws. What can I say, I just can’t make myself shut up. I have learned some hard lessons though, like some people really don’t like it when you try to debate them. So, I concur. Words: Handle With Care.


  2. God and politics bring out the most ire, don’t they?
    I asked myself why since in many ways they are polar opposites, and I think it’s because they have the most power over our lives.
    I like the idea of posting teasers on facebook.
    Oh, and don’t ever shut up :).


  3. Lovely entry, Andra. It’s something I worry about, as well, but where’s the line between never irritating someone and never saying anything that needs to be said? I think you can say anything as long as you say it right, with diplomacy and tact. Some people never quite understand that. Hm.. my next blog entry?
    On Facebook, you can go to “notes” and under options, import your blog teasers automatically by adding this url to the RSS feed. I just found that accidentally!


  4. . . . where’s the line between never irritating someone and never saying anything that needs to be said?

    Good point.
    Thanks for the info on RSS feeding my facebook page!


  5. I’ve had a friend today tell me how terribly she has been hurt by someone’s thoughtless and inconsiderate words. And what many people forget is that the written word stays in the wound for as long as the piece of paper containing them exists. One can never take back the pain inflicted by a thoughtless, harsh word. You are a favourite writer of mine, and your integrity shines through in your writing, which is so representative of you. And I can’t tell you how glad I am, particularly today, to have you as a friend.


  6. Words hurt more than any physical torture anyone could ever assault me with. One thing I always have to remember is that in a blog where I editorialize on politics or Faith, I can’t control another’s reaction and they are as entitled to their reaction as I am to what I wrote. After all, I posted it for all to read, but not personally to them individually. If they choose to “take” offense, I can’t take the responsibility for that.
    But when it is my personal story they are attacking they are throwing knives at my soul. You are right, some of the scars or wounds never heal. I know.
    Thanks for reminding me you were blogging outside of the other.


  7. Sarah: Aww, shucks. You done made me blush. Your friendship means a great deal to me as well.
    Thank you me dear.
    Nanette: Hey girl! Nice to see you here.
    Excellent point about attacking a person’s words verses attacking them personally.
    Don’t be a stranger, ‘kay?


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