feelings, human nature, hurt, life, writing

On the power of words and the price of being right

As a writer, I am fascinated by words. I read constantly, inhaling not just the stories themselves, but also the way the author played on a familiar phrase or how they chose to describe a flower, or a desert storm. I love to see how words dance together on the page in order to create the images and evoke the feelings that good writing tends to do.

I’m also endlessly fascinated, not just by the written word, but by the spoken word; the words we choose to say to each other. All writers are shameless observers of others. It’s one of the most essential tasks of writing: to try and travel into the heart of what it is to be human and to try to grasp what we say, why we say it, and how those words reverberate in the hearts of those who hear it.

And as a writer, and human at large, I still fail to understand why some people use their words and the power their words carry, to belittle and to hurt. Many years ago I wrote a blog post about the power of words. How the tongue, as the quote by Buddha goes, like a sharp knife, kills without drawing blood. I’ve written almost one-thousand posts on this website, but that particular post is one that stays with me to this day. I guess its because of how very easy it is to say something kind. And how equally easy it is to hurt someone with one’s words.

Someone hurt me recently in pursuit of speaking, what they believed to be, the truth. And while I don’t agree with their version of the truth, I can accept for them, it is true. And while I can respect that, for the life of me, I cannot understand, when one has a choice to say something kind [or nothing at all] why some choose to use words carefully crafted to land like acid into the hearts of others. 

Sometimes the hurtful thing you want to say, is, in your deepest and sincerest heart of hearts, true. It’s as true as the green tipped peaks of the Napali coast and the teal-blue waters of Bahai Honda Key. It’s the uncontroverted truth, and if it’s true, why shouldn’t you say it? If it hurts, well, sometimes, as the oft repeated phrase goes: the truth hurts.

I guess, despite my perpetual quest to understand the human condition, I still fail to understand why hurtful truths must be voiced so loudly. It’s one thing to think something, another to release it from your mouth. Unless you believe your words, your truth, is going to save someone from the brink of danger or enlighten them to achieve self-actualization and growth, why say it? [And for the record, ‘truths’ that land like daggers rarely enlighten any on the receiving end.]

We are a reflection of our words. Including our passive-aggressive jabs and our outright cruel ones. The more beauty our tongues set forth in this world, the more that is beautiful in the world and the more that is beautiful in us. We shouldn’t be disingenuous and say things we believe are false, but if the truth, our perception of it anyways, simply causes pain, is it worth it? If we say it simply to reveal how right we are– if our rightness alone is the grand prize, how precious is this prize? Is it worth the pain created in another? Is it worth the price for being right?

Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.- Henry James

7 thoughts on “On the power of words and the price of being right”

  1. Sorry that you are hurting. People can be crude to the extend of being cruel… I am inclined to think we, as humans, know better or are supposed to know better. But, that is not the case always.
    Feel better 🙂 How are the kidos?


  2. Mystic- it is sad 😦 I see the comments sometimes and I get nostalgic. I think its strange as I have more readers as evidenced by stats, but the comments are not what they used to be- I guess its a product of people doing more reading via cell phones?

    Thanks Anon for relating!


  3. I wish always to be kind in my words and to add goodness and beauty to the world with what I say. I've used my words to hurt others, a fleeting victory for the ego but a damning loss for my soul.


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