Social Commentary

The Power of a Word

I can remember being a little girl, quoting the following phrase with such attitude, “Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It gives a child confidence in the eyes of her antagonist, but as we grow and begin to understand the world around us, we realize that words can and do hurt.

With the right intentions, words have the power to inspire and uplift. They give a voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless. These are among the reasons why I chose this profession. I realized the power of a word and its impact and was fascinated at the thought of reaching a person miles away, without physically being there. Maybe this person is you. Allow me to explain.

This past week was a bit hectic for me, as I work the front desk for a busy hospital in Center City Philadelphia. The phones are usually ringing off the hook with people inquiring about the condition of their loved ones, general questions concerning parking or what time visiting hours are over, etc. Some good ones, some bad ones. It’s best not to take it personal, but this particular call was downright ugly.

The caller felt as if all had not been done in an effort to help their situation and out of the clear blue sky, called me a racial slur, (I’m sure you can guess which one) as if that were my name. Well, if they thought they hadn’t received help before, they definitely weren’t going to receive any now! I decided to take the non- confrontational route and ended the call. That was that.
Anger was an understatement in comparison to how I felt at that moment. Despite co-workers attempts to lift my spirits, the rest of my night was ruined. I couldn’t understand how on Earth that person thought calling me a name would change the circumstance. I began to ponder all of the comebacks I could have said in retaliation, (because you always find the right things to say after the moment has passed) but there was no use. It wouldn’t have made me any better than the ignorance I was faced with. And besides, the chances of me seeing this person face to face were slim to none.

It’s pretty sad how a person who knew nothing about me could think so little of me. What’s more sad is how people could still be so close minded, even in this day and age. So, instead of being angry, I feel sorry for that person. Those actions displayed are a learned behavior and if one hasn’t learned otherwise, they cannot impart that knowledge onto their children, thus, the ignorance continues.

Lastly, allow me to stress the importance of words once more. They are so important, God even tells us so in His word. Don’t believe me? The proof is in the pudding:

“But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not be so.” (James 3:8-10.)

Choose your words carefully,

The College Grad

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