By Frank J. Rich
Much is gained and lost by the spoken word. Though many can be turned to meanings beyond the parochial definition of them, words carry the power of life’s pleasures and pain. Instructive, colorful, poignant, of character, and misspoken, words–by their meaning and tone—are the avenues to the honor and horrific in human endeavor.
In efforts to prepare our world, for the opportunity and growth we all seek, we choose the words that aid this seminal desire in each. Those careful and patient with their words add treasure to the pursuit. In a world increasingly given to the constructionism of a post-modernist society, we have created the moral tribal communities that destine Left and Right. More important than service to another is the need (absolute) to “measure and place” each, according to his tribe. All this, while speaking of an emerging a one-world democracy. In the process, we shock our neighbors with the taboos and constraints, that either collects or warns them off. The results are often the ardor of totalitarianism or surprise as we wake the next morning to the “wrong candidate,” assumed or elected.
In the parlance of casual or contentious tribal ethic, we find meaning in the “whatever” that either enumerates or dismisses the footsteps to fulfillment. The term (whatever), taken up by youth and the youthful of past generations, is a sanctioning expression of the choices in unique individuals finding their way. Not so much for the word itself, but by its use as a dismissive, we find a convenient way to hurry to the next thing; often leaving bruised others in our wake.
Few would argue against the power in words, though too few are patient enough with them to gain their essential might. Prodigious indeed, words given meaning by a powerful phrase of action magnify their power and influence. We must engage our audience first before hoping to influence it. All that is digestible must first be ingestible. How we say what we say is easily as important as what we say. To give meaning to words, is to justify the conclusions we arrive at with the truth in them. A “cut-flower” society is not rooted in anything. It looks good, but withers quickly.
In his letter to the church at Philippi, the Apostle Paul reveals a way “through gentleness to everyone,” in expressing the words that form a more perfect union among us in this season of gratitude and joyfulness. Indeed, “whatever”!
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4: 8-9 NIV
In this season, especially, our words carry greater purpose when gratitude, for all things, informs them. Seeing everyone, and everything, as an opportunity helps.
Frank Rich is founder and CEO of Encore Príst International, an organizational development company that helps individuals
and organizations reach their full potential through the practice of effective business fundamentals. You may reach him at
firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 866/858-4EPI.