The Power of Our Words

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So I was thinking about St. Patrick’s Day today, naturally. It’s a big deal for me as I am Irish-American (okay so I’m probably a lot more American than Irish but I love my roots no matter how far back they go). I started prepping our Guinness-soaked Corned Beef and looking for my Irish Soda Bread recipe when I had a thought about Irish proverbs and sayings. I knew there was one about words but I couldn’t exactly remember what it said, so I hopped on good ole Pinterest.

I came out with this gem.

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I continued thinking as I got ready for my day (listening to some Irish music, duh) to head over to my family’s house to eat together and then go watch my brother and sister-in-law play some fantastic music at a local Pub. (Seriously, check them out.)

I started thinking about holidays and their meanings and how things get lost in translation so easily.

Take today, for example. It’s a holiday to celebrate a saint who was a missionary for the Catholic Church. And what do most people do to celebrate? Wear green, eat preserved brisket and cabbage and drink a lot of Guinness (or Killian’s Irish Red in my case). I get the progression based on history, don’t get me wrong but it’s interesting to think about how things evolve over time. Kind of like how our thoughts go on tangents.

That’s why I love the written word so well. Our words have value, and quite often we just say way too much. When I’m writing, I have the opportunity to think, to write my thoughts down, to filter and add and subtract where needed, or to even walk away and come back at another time to finish what I’m going to share. (Which is what I did just now.)

Our words, spoken and written, are powerful. They are just as capable of tearing people down, making them feel low and alone as they are of making people feel loved, needed, respected and inspired.

Writing has helped me so much with this. I am known for being very blunt and I quite often speak before I think, which leads to a lot of hurt feelings. Being able to think about what I want to say before I write it all down has really helped me tone back some of the bite to what I have to say. I’m still honest, which I feel is extremely important, but the harsh edges are sanded down just a little bit.

In a day and age where people can say anything they want behind the anonymity of a computer screen, we actually have opportunity to check our words before we push send. Yet we don’t. (I’m talking to you, trolls.)

We humans are far from perfect. I’m right in there with ya. I’m still going to slip up and hurt someone’s feelings. I’m going to let a swear word (or five) slip from time to time. Yet I think, if we all try to use our words to inspire, educate, empower, to share mercy, grace and love we’re all going to be a lot happier people.

What does this have to do with writing fiction? Even though we create make believe worlds, we are still imparting wisdom, morals, a lesson, and the joy of learning and imagination. We were given all of these things for a reason. Let’s use our words to do just that! Sláinte!