I have always been a lover of words- both the written and spoken word. They can be deeply moving; motivating armies to rise or nations to panic. One of my favorite stories that is a great example of the power of words; is of Orson Wells and the prank he played on the world. In 1938 his theater company went on the radio and performed an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ book War of the Worlds.
War of the Worlds
People panicked in the street.
Now I realize that the gullibility of those people was not strictly because of the power of words. They trusted their news sources. Something that few people do today. But it’s a gripping example, right?
He had a Dream
Martin Luther King Jr. is probably the most eloquent example of the power of words. He was an amazing orator! His “I have a Dream” speech was so moving that it sparked a revolution. It was a revolution long overdue in our country. And every time I read his words I am moved.
Martin Luther King could motivate men to action with the strength of his words. If any of you have ever tried to get a group of people to do something, you know how hard it can be. I believe that God was on MLK’s side, and that he was given a divine gift for words. He was living proof of my point- that words have power. And to this day his words are quoted when people are trying to make history.
Great speeches have spurred armies, comforted nations, and shaped history.
Words Motivate and Honor
On September 11, 2001 the United States was attacked by terrorists. We all remember the horror of that day. I was hurting, scared, and angry that small minded men had taken so much from so many people.
And then George W Bush stood up and gave a speech that calmed my fears and united a nation at a critical time.
My favorite part of his speech reads:
A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Today, our nation saw evil — the very worst of human nature — and we responded with the best of America.
With these examples, how can we ever tell ourselves that what we say doesn’t matter?
Kind words matter
As COVID has changed the way our world works, one of the billboards on the side of the road that has struck me the most is a picture of a woman with a mask on. It says “I do it for my Mother.” Meaning, she wears a mask to protect her mother.
I saw that and started thinking of those who matter most to me. My mother is older, and so many I love are too. That billboard motivated me to feel like wearing my mask more often. It did it’s job, with the power of words.
Probably the most powerful way you can use words is to build and lift others. I have a friend who is complimentary, uplifting, and encouraging. People love being around her. She is radiant and happy and fun. And I want to be like her. She has made a big difference in my life and in the lives of many others. She helps build people up and makes the world a better place.
Her beautiful influence made a difference. I remember being a teenager and this friend invited me over every Thursday so we could chat. We did crafts and she taught me skills to strengthen my soul. In this case the power of words built up instead of breaking down. Her loving service is also something I will never forget.
Words of God
Probably the most powerful words you will ever hear are the words of God meant for you. Words in a talk, the scriptures, and in a blessing calm and guide. The words of the scriptures teach us and strengthen us.
I have always been amazed at how we can read the scriptures a thousand times, but each time the Lord teaches us something different from it’s pages. I would be remiss if I didn’t include that incredibly powerful source of knowledge when talking about the power of words.
So, now that we have been reminded of this amazing gift, what are we going to do about it? Our world is a little more difficult right now. Communication outside our homes is stifled by face masks. But it’s still possible to lift others with our words. Face masks haven’t stopped all forms of communication.
I learned in a college communication class that we can’t NOT communicate. The face masks may have blocked one avenue, but there is a way we can be kind and influence our world around the mask. The tone of voice and kind words we share can ease the stress we all feel right now.
So with our inability to stop interacting with the world, let’s focus on using our powers for good. Every day we are faced with choices. We can make ourselves unforgettable in the lives of others with our kindness and light. Or we can hurt each other and spiritually maim with our verbal barbs. Which will it be? I have faith in you that you’re going to change the world for the better.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.