The title of today’s post by Lord Byron, albeit a bit poetic, certainly prompted me to think–as was the point I suppose. Just mere ink on paper…forming letters then words has, down through the ages, changed lives, changed governments, changed nations….From the Talmud on ancient scrolls, to the Magna Carta to our own Declaration of Independence, ink and paper possess tremendous power.
Men and woman die defending ink and paper. We fight one another over ink and paper. Ink and paper has caused people to take their own lives. It’s all a rather overwhelming combination when you actually think about the simplicity of the two as single entities and yet when combined together how staggeringly strong and powerful the two become.
Nathaniel Hawthorn, the early 19th century American novelist, reminded those of his day that “words—so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” This statement coming from a man who wrote the Scarlet Letter—-the powerful tale we all read in High School of the single red letter A literally forced upon a young woman, to wear for all to see, as a visible sign of a private indiscretion made very public. A single written letter, worn, changing lives forever.
And when I think of a small, rather pitiful, man who took pen and paper to write about his “struggles”, Mein Kampf, and how that combination of letters, forming words, became a psychotic manifesto of a single disturbed individual who worked a nation up into a frenzy of death and murder….or of another angst ridden man who put ink to paper, forming a doctrine of living which in turn sent another nation to revolt against it’s ruling czar, changing the course of history and our own lives forever—it becomes so overwhelming to me….it all simply starts first with ink, then paper, then letters, then words…………….
Today so many of us causally throw words around never taking time to ponder the consequence or outcome of those words which are now so easily clicked off a computer or phone. From toxic viral e-mails to emotional ranting tweets—words and their piercing effects are almost unemotionally thrown out at individuals, with intentions to hurt, to mock, to belittle–allowing the offender to hide behind them—-
No longer is it really ink on paper. Did we think more, do we think more, when we are actually having to take a pen or pencil in hand to a sheet of paper rather than the rapid fire texting we seem to have reduced ourselves to today….? Did we consider our words more carefully when we were actually writing, slowly, letter per letter, word built upon word….were we kinder, more thoughtful, more determined, more committed? Perhaps not—but what if we were more thoughtful of our words and of the choice of those words…..what then???
On this Monday morning, a new day to a new week, consider the words you write—-type—during the course of the week—how powerful are they? What is their true intent? Do you wish to harm or help?
Do your words represent who you truly think you are—kind and benevolent–or caustic and trite….my hope is that we may be more mindful when combining letters into forming words—
What shall your words be….