You’ve probably heard the old adage, “Words have power.” There’s also, “Thoughts are things.” Both of these are pointing to the energy or vibration that are carried in the thoughts we think and the words we use to communicate. I have come to realize that most people don’t know or even care to understand the power that resides in either of these two things, except perhaps when we are angry. It is then that words become a weapon – used to hurt and maim.
We live in a very chaotic time. Around the globe, there is so much anger and hate being directed at one another, creating so much sorrow and pain. Here in the USA, it’s no different. We’ve become a nation no longer united but rather divided by the idea that there is an “us” and a “them.” The truth is, there is only a “we,” as in “We the People.”
As I sit and observe the ever-changing face of our country, I can’t help but think part of the problem is a lack of communication. It’s rare to have people of differing opinions sit down and really try to understand each other from the other person’s perspective. Hell, it’s rare for people who appear to agree to sit down and have an actual conversation.
We’ve become a country, and world, where texting is the mode of communication with emojis to express our emotions. People rarely pick up their phones to actually call other people and it’s more rare still for people to meet and talk face-to-face. When we do communicate via instant messaging or texting, we don’t even really speak good English. We’ve reduced ourselves to the using acronyms – LOL, OMG, WTF, BTW, etc. and bastardizing the words we use – “bad” means good when speaking of the condition of something or someone (Did you see her new car? It was really bad!) when bad means unsatisfactory in its original meaning; or “dope” (which really means stupid or refers to drugs) is used to refer to the state of something or someone (That recording was really dope.) meaning, once again, it was good or awesome. And spelling…don’t even get me started!
Then there are some words that some of us have just decided are “dirty” words and should now be used in insulting, demeaning ways. Of these, I would like to talk about the words, liberal, moderate, and conservative. I realize these are, for the most part, considered to be political terms and I shy away from getting into that political arena where mud-slinging has become a way of life, but I really feel it’s time to take a look at what those words mean, at their root.
Liberal is the one most used as a dirty word of these three. I consider myself a liberal, for the most part, and have a hard time understanding why the qualities of a liberal are so detested. The dictionary reveals to us that “liberal” means, “1. Characterized b or inclining toward opinions or policies favoring progress or reform, as in politics or religion. 2. Not intolerant or prejudice; broad-minded. 3. Characterized by generosity or lavishness in giving; bountiful. 4. Given or yielded freely or in large quantity; bounteous; plentiful; ample. 5. Not literal or strict.” It goes on for another three meaning, but I think you get the idea.
The whole idea of the founding of this country was so that everyone could practice the religious beliefs they held, in particular, but also so they could pursue happiness in a life of their own choosing. There is no dictate in the Constitution of this country that everyone needs to march in lock-step or conform to a cookie-cutter life in any way, shape, or form. That, folks, speaks to liberalism.
I have often said that I may not agree with your point of view/lifestyle or even like it, but I would stand up and fight for your right to have that point of view as long as you aren’t actually harming anyone to have/do it. Seriously…that’s what being liberal means to me – allowing others to be who they want to be and do what they want to do, even though it may differ greatly from who I am and what I do. What’s so bad about that?
Let’s take a look at the word “moderate” and see what it really means. “1. Keeping or kept within reasonable limits; not extreme or excessive; temperate. 2. Holding or characterized by ideas or convictions that are not extreme or radical. 3. Of medium or average quality, quantity, scope, extent, etc.” Once again, I have a hard time seeing what’s so terrible about being moderate. It seems to me that a moderate person would be one that easily sees and considers both sides of a situation and would choose to find some sort of compromise to bring two sides together. Yet, moderates, especially in politics, are seen as wimpy, fence-sitters, etc. and are a quickly dying breed. I find that sad.
Finally, there’s the word “conservative” which is sometimes used now to mean stubborn, old-fashioned, and even stronger negative descriptive words. In actuality, conservative means, “1. Inclined to preserve the existing order of things; to oppose change. 2. Cautious. 3. Conserving, preservative.” While this can look a little stodgy, if you look at its root word “conserve” I think it gives a better indication of what it could or should mean. Conserve means, “To keep from loss, decay, or depletion; maintain; protect.” I can be very conservative with money when the need arises. That doesn’t make me a bad person, just one who wants to preserve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
There is nothing truly evil or negative about any of these three words. They represent different points of view. That’s all. However, for some reason, there are those from each group who use these designations of the other two as dirty words, evil connotations when talking about those whose opinions differ from their own. I truly don’t understand. Is this all because we must be right (and all others wrong) in order to feel safe and secure? If that’s the case, then we are living from a place of fear and not love or at least understanding.
Thoughts are things and words do have power. Communication is of utmost importance, especially with those with whom we disagree. They are not the enemy. Silence and ignorance is the enemy. Spitting words that you truly do not know the meaning of at other groups of people resolves nothing. It only causes more pain, more division, more fear, and more misunderstanding.
It’s time we use words clearly and correctly, face-to-face, to learn about each other and become united again. United doesn’t mean we will always agree, but it does mean we will stand with each other to defend a way of life that allows each of us to live as we choose to live. It’s time to stop using words as weapons and use them to build bridges of understanding. It all begins with being open to hearing that other point of view. If not now, when?