If you’re a writer, you’re going to love words. But part of that love comes from your knowledge of their power. Words are beautiful gifts – with sharp edges. I believe in freedom of speech. But we often act as if words exist in a vacuum. They do not.
Our ability to communicate has given us civilisations, nations; dominance (rightly or wrongly) on this planet. That shows you the power of words. So we should never pretend that because they do not inflict physical change, they can’t be powerful or dangerous. Words can incite, words can enflame. Words can support and justify and embolden. The words we speak and hear, and words you write and read; the power comes from both sides.
The age of internet and global media means we’re overflowing with words. Sometimes we’re close to drowning in them. We struggle under their weight, so we try to sum up, to ‘sound-bite’, this torrent of words in a nice neat bow. But it’s not possible. And when we do so, we erase their context and inadvertently make words even sharper.
I won’t repeat that oft used ‘Uncle-Ben-from-Spiderman’ quote, but it’s foolish not to understand what words can do. And the freedom some of us have to send them into the world comes with a price. We must take responsibility for our words. We must never underestimate how powerful they can be.