For a time I was the coordinator of the Kansas Authors Club Writers in the Schools program, a State Board of Education pilot project.
One of my presentations to students was on the power of words. I told them words were magic because I had the power to put pictures in their heads. If I said “cardinal,” a red bird popped into their heads. If I said “rattlesnake,” not only did I put a picture in their head but also some fear or anxiety.
I have thought about the power of words a great deal over the past five years. Words are being used to manipulate people in unhealthy ways.
To create an us-vs-them world, we call protesters “a mob” to reframe an event. With one word we both defame people with a constitutional right to protest and deter people away from the injustice under protest.
Ethnocentrism (inherent superiority) is alive and well as code words are used to separate people in this nation. For instance, “the suburbs” is code for white. “Invasion” is used to refer to immigrants or people of color moving into the United States or into “the suburbs.”
I have grave concerns about who we are as discerning individuals. Why choose to believe a lie rather than the truth? I suppose winning could be more important than truth to many. For those of faith, I find it interesting that “the truth and the way” is negated to allow prejudicial behaviors and language.
Why do we perpetuate untruth with our posts? Personally, I think some have come to believe that we live in a reality TV world, that winning is everything and truth is inconvenient.
We all have opinions about everything from constitutional government to abortion rights to civil rights, but opinions are questions of our world view and less about absolutes. Opinions come from faith, cultural preferences and as a reaction to fear.
Truth is many things – science, factual evidence, what I see and hear myself. Do we try to reinvent truth to justify our fears? Fear of change? Fear of other? Fear of lost control? Fear of shared power?
We are back to choice. I choose to speak truth. I do not try to manipulate and I will not be manipulated.
How I value others in my life depends largely on their value of truth. The truth is we are all Americans. The opinions of Democrats or Republicans is of less value than the overwhelming truth that we are all members of families, this country and of the world community. The truth is that some people try to divide us along party lines, racial lines and religious lines.
Words matter. Truth matters. Choose wisely!