An ode to the power of words | Jan's Journal

The power of words is an amazing thing.

Headlines scream for attention in the paper. I visualize the words jumping up and down yelling, “Read me first! Read me first!”

In my little world, everything, from politics to the economy woes, seems far away, as if those worrisome words can’t possibly have anything to do with me. And yet, everything we do in this life all comes back to how we use our words, and subsequently, back them up with our actions.

Of course it’s to be expected that President Barack Obama’s choice of pet is of national interest, with photo-ops galore in the news. There is no better way to bring the president down to our level than by hearing Mr. President liken himself to their dog selection with the words “I’m a mutt, too.” (He could have added “And the most powerful man in the world,” but chose not to at that time.)

My just-turned-9-year-old daughter bubbled over with excitement while describing her recent overnight birthday party ice-breaker game. She called it “Would You Rather.” The premise is to creatively describe two hypothetical events from which you must choose one or the other, hence the name, Would You Rather.

I laughed out loud at the humor of 9-year-olds. This seemingly innocent game made me reflect on the power of words. One of the hypothetical scenarios went like this: “Would you rather eat a scraggly rat, crunchy bones and all, swallow and suck on its tail, or die?”

My daughter said “Die.” She stoically reasoned that rats have germs and she’d die from that anyway, so why bother?

How about an adult version of Would You Rather? I can imagine lots of things worse than eating a rat, which I’m sure taste good to owls.

“Would you rather squeeze into an ugly two-sizes-too-small bikini off the picked-over-end-of-season sales rack at Target, be forced to view yourself from all angles using glaring fluorescent lights above and below, then suddenly hear a male voice scream, ‘Fire, everybody out!’ and have to immediately vacate the dressing room (still wearing the hideous bikini) into a waiting crowd of handsome firemen with cameras — or die?”

I will tell you now that I would like bunches of forget-me-nots at my funeral.

If asked, “Why the second option?” I will stoically reason that I would die anyway of mortification, so why bother?

Here’s one for the men: “Would you rather stand outside your favorite sporting event venue listening to the completely packed crowd go crazy inside enjoying the sold-out game of the century, with a gorgeous, captivating woman who is actually interested in what you have to say — or, score two front row tickets, but you have to sit with your wife who hates the sport, and won’t stop talking/nagging you about her honey-do list?”

I know — it’s a huge quandary! Interestingly, I asked my husband this Would You Rather question and he froze, started laughing and hedged. Yes, he hedged the inquiry, and diplomatically stated non-convincingly, after five minutes of hedging/nervously laughing (while I stared unblinkingly at him): “Oh, you know my answer, you know.” He then disappeared.

I have always believed that actions speak louder than words too. We all say one thing, but do the opposite on occasion. It could be human nature. As long as we try to include apologizing when warranted, the power of words will always be an amazing thing.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 21
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates