Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Masterful Compilation of Vocabulary

The title sounds a bit pompous, doesn't it? I'd like to apologize to Jared now, as I'm about to use an offhand statement he made to my husband a few weeks ago as an example to start out this post.

It'd been a while since he'd posted on his own blog (Cowboy Thoughts - link can be found in my blog list), and I commented on how much I'd been missing him. The next day he said something like this to my husband, "Your wife used a word I didn't know," to which my hubby replied, "Yeah, she does that to me all the time."

I had to chuckle, but it's stuck with me since. I've always loved words, and the bigger they are the smarter I sound, lol. Right? RIGHT?

Yet the power a word holds is too often skimmed over in these days. As I stood outside my son's school class waiting for it to end, there were three men talking music and laughing. As I tuned in to what they were actually saying, my ears were assaulted by the use of awful language from one particular young man. The swearing wasn't done in anger, or to insult anyone, it was simply a natural pattern of his conversation. With each word, however, I found myself shifting away from them, chanting internally for the doors to open so I could leave. At one point I covered my ears (with the pretense of keeping them warm) and tapped my teeth so I wouldn't have to listen anymore.

My mind drifted back to one of the most poignant times when the value of words was brought home to me. Believe it or not, I was watching the movie "Hook", the one with Robin Williams. For those who are unfamiliar with it, Robin plays a grownup Peter Pan, who's forgotten who he is. He cannot fly. He cannot fight. This doesn't stop Captain Hook from taking his children, in the hopes of one last, final fight between the two. Tinkerbell promises to get Peter back into fighting form with the help of the Lost Boys.

At one point, they've all sat down to dinner, though you can only see (and eat) the food if you use your imagination (which Peter forgot how to do a long, long time ago). The leader of the Lost Boys, Rufio, begins making fun of Peter, calling him names and such. At last Peter is goaded into taunting the boy right back, and a battle of words commences.

As both Peter and Rufio try to outdo one another we begin to see the value of knowledge in confronting someone who is ready to bring you down. Rufio's name calling eventually deteriorates under Peter's extensive use of words none of the kids understand, until, in a last and desperate attempt to regain ground Rufio shouts out, "You stupid, stupid man!"

It sounded like something a child would shout in anger and frustration. It sounded lame.

The next thing that came to mind was an experience I had a few years ago as I (once again) stood outside waiting for my oldest to come out of class. My youngest was a tiny little thing at the time, and my boys had headed towards the playground to have some fun until the bell rang. A group of girls (about 11 or twelve) gathered nearby, all ready for a confrontation. The fight ended up being one of words, and the words were deplorable! I found myself wanting to cover my baby's ears, and to be honest it took me days to recover from the damage it did to my spirit. Because they had such a limited vocabulary, they had to resort to using the basest and ugliest of words, ones which damage them more than the objects of their hatred.

Words have power. The words that come out of your mouth speak volumes about the person you are. Knowledge is power. The more you learn the better equipped you are to deal with people. If you don't know a word someone uses, look it up. Empower yourself. Empower others. Use these words to uplift and enlighten those around you. One of the most beautiful gifts we can give those we love is a kind word.


Emily said...

There is a power in words - and not only in the written word, but also in how we speak and effectively communicate with each other. I think that's why it's so important to keep our manners and speach clean and respectful. It really is a reflection of who you are on the inside. Great post, and that's hilarious about Jared. lol He's so cute.

Anonymous said...

Your words are so powerful and true. Once again thanks for sharing something so meaningful. I remember a time when I used those awful vulgar words to help me express my anger. Close family of mine used these words and I thought it was a right of passage into adulthood. I'm so glad I've seen the err in my ways and changed how I speak to others. Now I'm working on telling my three year old why speaking that way is damaging to his soul. In little kid dialect of course. :)

Jennie said...

Excellent blog. Big words or little ones do not matter as much as having an abundance of choices. Words lose power, effectiveness, and even shock affect when they're used repetitively. And there's no way to express yourself intelligently if you assume a word's meaning is "close enough" to the meaning you wish to convey.