They are my business, my pleasure and passion since my early teens, but even I can choose the wrong one. It’s easy to forget that something so simple, so swiftly and thoughtlessly typed, can have an impact in a way you never imagined.
Words must be used, and chosen, with special care. Never forget this.
Funny how one word can have such different shades of meaning to different people. Asylum vs institution, for instance. Illegal vs undocumented is another example that replaces a highly charged word with a more palatable one. Global warming vs climate change shows how the right words can clarify a message, while the wrong ones can undermine it. Even our favorites — sorry, love, never again — carry very different meanings to each of us.
One perfectly innocent, unsuspecting word can disturb, inflame, abuse. Words can conjure quite powerfully — which is why we writers love them so — and why it’s been said so often that, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
A sword can forcibly impose its will. Words strike the mind, evoke strong feelings, change thinking, open eyes. Words can wound in a way that should leave a scar (perhaps even kill) but does not. Words are remembered (repeated) long after they are said.
The power of words goes too often ignored. Even by those of us who should know better.
Words can ignite a firestorm (Donald Trump) that takes on a life of its own. Obscure the real message. Every politician (except apparently Donald Trump) recognizes the power words have. Probably why candidates and office holders hire speech writers and craft “talking points”, anyone trying to get a message across knows the right words are invaluable.
And the wrong words as destructive and deadly to a cause as any traditional weapon has ever been.