Saturday, November 20, 2010

Making Changes

If you ask me how many times I will address the issue of how we use words to destroy and bully, I will answer you with this, “As many times as I think necessary to effect a positive change.”

While standing in a checkout line recently, I could not help but overhear a conversation between a mother and her daughter who were standing directly in front of me. They were perusing an abundant array of tabloid magazines, strategically placed to catch the eye of any avid reader of gossip and scandal. Upon picking up one magazine that addressed the alleged infidelities of a well known celebrity, and the recent plastic surgery of another, the mother turned to her daughter and said, “See? This is why I love reading stuff like this. It makes me feel better about my own life.” I was horrified by her remarks, and tempted to point out to her that by buying and reading these sorts of publications, she was in fact aiding and abetting the murder of a person’s character. This is not a new phenomenon by any means, but one that is becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s society.

It is not the words themselves that do the damage, rather it is the way they are used, expressed and written that gives the ultimate punch. A certain tone or inflection within a person’s voice can turn an innocuous sentence into one with death deadly intent, whereas the written word appearing in italic’s, caps bold, or quotation marks, gives us a sense of the sarcasm, innuendos and allegations hidden within. Then there are those who don’t hide their intent at all, and launch angry diatribes and often vile attacks on people undeserving of their focus.

Words are spoken and they are written. Can words harm? Yes. Can they save? Absolutely. Can they heal? Without question. Are they weapons? Oh yes. Can they kill? Most definitely. And they have. Paragraph 9, Preface to the Words and Violence Curriculum written by Rev. Barbara Kaufmann, for Voices [Education Project]

Again and again, we have seen the results caused through the pursuit of gossip and scandal by tabloid media who use words as a means to destroy, not only a person’s character, career, marriage and relationships, but in some cases, their very lives. Princess Diana and Michael Jackson are classic examples in this current age, as are the recent suicides of several teenagers who were bullied and persecuted for being different. It is for these very reasons that Voices {Education Project] and the Words and Violence Curriculum, are so vitally important.

The release of the Words and Violence video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVV4T3cChlk produced by Rev. Barbara Kaufmann, comes at a time when awareness is most needed. It is a beautiful visual presentation of the power that is yielded through the use of words, and how they can affect everyone’s lives, not just our celebrities and well known personalities. It gives one pause to ask this question, “Just how much have we ourselves, contributed to violence through words in our own personal, social and working relationships?” Do we dare to accept some of the blame? Do we dare to make a change before we lose any more of our shining stars?

©Valmai Owens, 2010. All Rights Reserved.
No reproduction without permission from author.

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