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LETTER: The power of words

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I have always felt the key to life and success is good communication. Words are the foundation that communication is built upon. Words are powerful and they can be positive or negative. They can make you happy or they can make you sad. Too often words are used without giving careful thought. Words create wars and words can give you eternal life.
As life and time has passed me, I have become a much better listener. That was not always the case. I can remember my father telling me, “Sit down, shut up and listen.” I have certainly learned much more by listening than speaking.
Pythagoras’ Theorem contains 24 words; Archimedes’ Principle, 67; the 10 Commandements, 179; the American Declaration of Independence, 300; and recent legislation in Europe with reference to when and where you can smoke, 24,942. We should measure the value of our words in quality, not quantity.
As an educator of 43 years, I have seen the “words” of teachers inspire children to levels that were unbelievable. And, I have seen the “words” of those that destroyed children and their education. I have seen those with great minds that would not communicate and those that border on being brain dead that you could not shut up.
I have just finished reading a May 2013 Reader’s Digest article, “Animals that Act like People.” It makes me think of “People that Act like Animals,” and it starts with those words that are spoken in anger and with hatred. Words should be used with love and compassion. The character of a person is defined by the words they use.
I could write a book on how important words are and how best they could be used. But, in closing, let me share an old folk tale about the power of words.
Once upon a time, there was a young man who had a bad habit of gossip and thoughtless comments. He hurt many people and was forgiven many times. One day, he repeated something that was not true about a friend, and he became remorseful when he realized the damage he had caused. He went to his priest and asked what he could to as a penance. The priest took him to the top of the town’s tallest hill, emptied a feather pillow into a forceful breeze and told him, “Now pick up all the feathers and bring them back to me.” “That’s impossible,” he exclaimed. “I will never be able to find them all.” The priest noted, “That is the way it is with words, too.”
We must choose our words carefully. They are powerful things. We the people of Spencer County should choose the words that we listen to for the betterment of our community.
Ronald “Woodie” Cheek
Spencer County