Writing is a mystical process that wells up from a deeply powerful source. Words can bring peace and foster understanding or pronounce wars. They’re building blocks – serious toys for our minds to use to construct concepts and prompt us to grow and change. They form our minds, create barriers or help to break them down. My mother repeated often, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” This little piece of wisdom, if put into practice, can transform an environment by promoting silence and comprehension. By relying too heavily on words, we often ignore that the feelings and intentions behind them, hidden in the secret garden, carry weight too and may even contradict speech. When I say, “It’s fine,” with a reticent tone, it’s clear to a good listener that I’m not in accord with myself or the situation. It’s not fine. The same happens on paper. Through a combination of words, we put ourselves onto the page and with them go a hint, a feeling of what we carry inside. Words, when used with love make a tremendous impact.
Words harm. Sometimes the very act of labeling someone or an act they’ve committed contributes to and fosters misconceptions. The label becomes a judgment rather than an observation. It puts up artificial barriers. The pain of past words that hurt reminds me not to injure my family, my friends and colleagues. Not to shoot off emails without thinking twice.
Words can heal too. I watch how eyes light up when I give someone a sincere, heart felt word of encouragement. One word can be enough to make a difference for a child to make a decision between going onto higher education or heading onto the street. It can encourage a sick relative or send her deeper into despair. A friend recently experienced the traumas of breast cancer. Through the cycle of shock, denial, anger and loss of a piece of her, she came out stronger and her eyes shine with renewed self-confidence. Family and friends call on her to help them understand their own dilemmas with breast cancer. “I’m happy to talk to them,” she says. Through her matter-of-fact approach and kind, gentle words of support, she is changing their world, her world and mine to make it a better place.
Some rules I follow about what to write and say:
Will it help? Will it encourage and inspire? Will it improve on the silence or just add to the mental pollution? Is it the right time to express this? Is it true? Will what I have to say and write foster unity and understanding?
Copyright: Debra Moffitt 2008