Saturday, May 17, 2014

It's Only Words

Five-hundred is a nice round, satisfying number. As I write my five-hundredth blog I pause to think of the significance of the words written in this space. Although there are many empty words in our world, words can, and do, make a difference. I pray that some of the words in this blog have made a positive difference and that none, or at least few of them, have been hurtful.

Being born in a country where English is the dominant language, I am blessed to be able to communicate in one of the most prolific languages of the world. People from all over the world seek to learn the language that was modeled for me in my home and taught to me in school. Yet, it is important to note that languages come with a cultural bias; and as a writer, it is good to have a sense of your biases. I recognize some of my own prejudices while other predispositions remain a mystery to me. We can all be helped by those who point out the angle from which we look at our world. I would ask you, my readers, to help me with this as you have opportunity. I also pray that my words might challenge your own understandings of the world and might encourage you to change your thinking on some subjects. I write much about science, faith, God, justice, care for one another, and music. There is plenty of room for disagreement in each of these areas. May we challenge one another to think beyond our parochial perspectives and self-limited understandings.

As in relationships, the most important aspects of writing are honesty and sincerity. Words and relationships are tightly intertwined as illustrated by the words of this familiar Bee Gees song.
You think that I don't even mean
A single word I say
It's only words
And words are all I have
To take your heart away1
We will not have influence, nor will we long have friends, if we cannot be honest in our writing and believe the things about which we write. Although you might say to me, "well, that is obvious," it is important to recognize that we do live in a time where some things that are said and written come from a place of insincerity and obfuscation. If we cannot convince others of the logic of our argument, we can all (and of course all includes me) resort to confusing others or downright lying to people to save ourselves from appearing to be wrong. It was George Orwell that said,
The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns, as it were, instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.
We can readily see what an ugly use of words that could be. Words work best when we use them in honest ways to carefully explain our beliefs. Others can then compare them to their own beliefs and honestly challenge them in places where the words may yet be lacking. In this way the discussion moves forward and we walk away with greater understanding and greater truth. It's only words, but words are all we have to help each other understand our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs.

My prayer for each of us is that our words may be true and sincere. May our words be precise and precious. May our words be as few as necessary and as grand as possible. May our words be the seasoning of life that flavours the goodness of the world around us. Thank-you, reader, for joining me on this journey of words on the occasion of my five-hundredth blog.

1 "Words," written by Gibb, Maurice Ernest / Gibb, Robin Hugh / Gibb, Barry Alan.

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