Working Together On Life's Issues

The Power of Words

You must be the change that you wish to see in the world. - Ghandi

The Power of Words

The saying goes that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” I tend to agree. Words have an amazing power to heal, to create laughter and hope, to elevate and encourage, to praise and inspire. They also have the ability to send a person plummeting into the depths of despair, to enrage, to embitter, to dash one’s beliefs to the very core, to create doubt and fear, and to destroy hope. How often is a word uttered only to be misunderstood? How often do we say things without thinking and then are surprised by the recipient’s reactions?

What would happen if instead of looking for the negative aspects of life, we chose to appreciate the small things that make life worth living? What would happen if we chose to walk through life with a smile on our faces rather than a scowl? And truly, what would happen if we became cheerleaders—offering words of encouragement and appreciation?

Well, here is a story that speaks loudly of the impact of words and how they are spoken:

A group of frogs were traveling through the woods when two of them fell into a deep pit. All of the other frogs came to an abrupt halt and gathered around the pit and peered down. When they saw how deep the hole was, they told the unfortunate frogs that they would never get out.

These two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump out of the pit. The other frogs kept telling them to stop; that they were as good as dead, and might as well give up. The two frogs still continued to ignore the comments and shouts of discouragement and jumped and jumped and jumped some more. After a while, their legs began to grow tired and their bodies seemed heavier. The top of the pit seemed ever so much farther out of reach, and yet they jumped again.

Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs were saying and simply gave up. He fell down and died. The other frog, however, continued to jump as hard as he could. Finally, and with a last burst of energy, that frog jumped out of the pit.

The other frogs looked at him in disbelief. This frog had accomplished what the other frogs surely believed to be impossible. “Why did you continue jumping when we told you to quit?” they croaked. “Didn’t you hear us?”

The surviving frog looked at the others in disbelief. He explained to them that he was deaf. He thought, all along, that they were encouraging him.

There truly is the power of life and death in the tongue. With one remark we have the ability to lift and inspire a person who is down, to keep trying and to make it through to another day. Yet, a word said in anger, hate, or animosity to someone who is already depressed, may be all that it takes to kill them.

It is amazing just how far a word or two of encouragement can travel. It can be enough to turn the tide of a sporting event when the crowd is “behind the team.” How much does a compliment cost? The pen may be mightier than the sword, and words are not simply utterances. In fact, words can influence the course of history.

As Cavett Robert stated, “Three billion people on the face of the earth go to bed hungry every night, but four billion people go to bed every night hungry for a simple word of encouragement and recognition.” Dare to “feed” even one person a day. You can make a positive difference in the lives of others.