“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.” —Nathaniel Hawthornes
I’ve been reflecting on the power of words lately. I remember reciting the familiar phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” as a child and feeling confident that I would be much worse off with broken bones than damaged feelings.
I now know how wrong that silly taunt is. Words can heal, hurt, unite, destroy, inspire, educate, offend, encourage, degrade…Their meanings change over time and from person to person.
As a writer, I pay close attention to the words I choose to write and carefully edit them before I’m satisfied with my choice. I admit, shamefully, that I am not always so careful with the words I speak on a daily basis. I’m working on it.