It’s been a strange August full of strange happenings.
It started when I packed up my gypsy wagon once more and moved from Chicago to North Carolina with an unintended pit stop (i.e. dead car battery) beside a nuclear power plant. Did I mention it was the dead of night in West Virginia with everything closed the following day? Soon after, Charlottesville, Virginia, was set upon by white supremacists. My husband is a UVA alumnus and we dated through our undergrad years, so I have a romantic devotion the town, its students, and community. It broke our hearts to see it tainted with hate and violence. Immediately following, the sun and moon aligned in the first solar eclipse in 99 years. All in a month.
Prophetic much? I came close to telling my builder to scrap the house plans and dig a bunker. Then I remembered that living in fear is exactly what our enemies want—whether they come from within (supremacists) or without (terrorists). We can let the internal and external devils govern our actions, or we can seek some semblance of understanding so as to respond discerningly. Words are our power, friends.
As men and women whose lives are dedicated to the craft, the responsibility falls on us to be facilitators of a positive language exchange. Antagonistic rhetoric is too readily accepted today, indirectly and directly. It’s become the only way many know how to communicate. But anger and fear only fuel the beast.
Make no mistake: we are angry; we are fearful. But as guardians and proprietors of words, we understand that there is grace, knowledge, and a defined intent to every written and spoken element. This is the credence we give to spending hours deliberating over each a and the that make up the sentences and paragraphs and pages of our chapters. Words matter.
Once expressed, words resonate through the chambers of the world we inhabit and through the chambers of ourselves. We believe them— believe in them. So we must choose wisely, now more than ever. This is not the time for ignorance or flagrant tweets. 140 characters have the power to unite or destroy a nation.
Let’s be clear about the truth of language: words see no color of skin, religious affiliation, age, or sex. They supersede time, wealth, and political powers. They are steadfast as the mountains yet fluid as water. Our sacred texts even refer to them with veneration: In the beginning was the Word… They are to be honored and applied with due diligence. Anything less twists their nature and makes them void.
Silence is not an option either. I’m ashamed to confess that I tried that in the past. During the volatile election year, I had a well-meaning family member counsel me not to publicly express my personal beliefs. She warned me that it would never reflect my true heart. I’m guilty of caving to the pressure. I didn’t want to offend family and friends on either side of the political divide.
Charlottesville changed me. [Read more…]