Like a heart-shattering bullet, words can damage.
The true force and nature of language is often misjudged. People consider the action in a conflict the main event. Sure, situations leading up a disagreement are taken into consideration. But who thinks about the words involved? After all, guns don’t kill people – people kill people, right?
Depending on your beliefs, perhaps the above sentiment is backwards. Still, what if that notion is altogether untrue? Whether interpreted backwards or forwards, it’s possible there is another entity to blame. Maybe the weapons and people involved in conflicts are simply irrelevant. Perhaps they are merely game pieces in a deeper issue.
The killer might be more humanely connected. Thus, let’s consider a different culprit – words, for example.
Maybe words kill people.
This isn’t an implication that such a feat is physically possible. Instead, it’s an argument that words play as big a role in conflict as a tangible weapon.
Consider any killer’s weapon of choice. Guns, swords, knives – sure, they can harm. A physical, painful, life-threatening stab wound will likely kill. Ignoring a bullet-pierced artery is difficult. In the heat of a lengthy, battering conflict, placing blame on either the killer or his gun is easy. Such a take on this type of situation is nothing to be upset about. So you’ve placed responsibility on either the shooter or his gun. By doing so, you’re merely imitating a notion maintained by the majority.
But consider the events prior to the pulling of that pistol’s trigger. What was said between the opposing sides? How many staggering differences were brought up in conversation? Which choice words were thrown around before someone brought out the gun?
Historically speaking, words instigated conflict.
Historical wars of conflicting ideologies are detailed in countless works of literature.
Folks deem a specific religion superior because they view certain words as truth. Conversely, another faith insists on an entirely different set of words to be accurate. Conflict ensues – terrible, life-threatening wars eventually depicted in written text.
Children read about such warfare in school. Avid readers become engrossed in fascinating books on historical, language-driven conflicts.
Literature depicts the graphic nature of these conflicts with descriptive narratives, imagery, and intriguing characterization. Textbooks highlight the reasons differing ideologies raged war upon one another. Historical and education sources pinpoint the consequential actions of these conflicts.
Much attention is paid to the aftermath. But the reasons that disastrous events such as World War I began may still stumble even the most attentive student.
Why? Factual records of massive events don’t clearly detail the origin. The foundation of such conflicts may be touched on, but it isn’t fully discussed. Folks are far more interested in the consequences. Questions like, “What’s this got to do with me?” and “Why should I care?” push people away from the actual reason behind a conflict’s conception. To maintain public interest in human history and conflict, the aftermath became the focus.
This notion has carried over to society’s personal struggles.
In the real world – terrible wars of bloodshed aside – conflicts arise frequently. Sadly, folks tend to focus on the present. Rather than attempting to understand the reason behind a conflict, people concentrate on the action involved.
Nevertheless, you and your loved ones are no stranger to quarrels. In the social sphere, professional environments, and your personal life arguments are common.
Consider, if you will, the conflicts you’ve been drawn into. Think about situations you’ve witnessed between comrades. Now, try to narrow down the reasons behind such arguments. Does the search for the origin of these trying conflicts feel exhausting? Does it feel like the source has been pulled out of thin air merely due to lingering resentment? What started those tense, often prolonged conflicts? What set off a person to the point where physical violence could be possible?
Words – yours, mine, those spoken by Bob, your highly aggressive neighbor.
Your words can damage, belittle, or cause anxiety.
That rant you just posted about your seemingly terrible day? You likely upset another who feels you have too much good going for you. Said person may feel you’ve got far too much to be thankful for, and can’t comprehend your inability to recognize that fact.
Remember your critique of Natalie who lives just down the block? Your harsh comment about her weight was likely taken to heart.
Words harm just as much – if not more – than your favorite, tangible, weapon of choice.
Consider the school shooting incidents that have littered news outlets as of late. Sure, you can blame the shooter until the majority believes your position. Gun in hand, taking a stance in a room full of terrified school-aged children cowering behind desks – the kid sure seems like a killer.
Obviously, the whole orchestration of events was completely his fault, right?
Sadly, the mind of said shooter is filled with words. Sharp, agonizing, brilliantly effective words. Language that encompassed his outlook and provoked an already unstable mind. A mind filled with ongoing conversations with his parents – discussions that likely lessened his emotional stability. Memories of constant taunting from classmates who deem themselves superior. Years of belittlement brought on by the words of others, from people who misuse the power of language. Folks who don’t understand – or aren’t willing to accept – the weight of their bullying antics. Those who use words to demean, inflict pain, or damage others.
Yes, like all killers, that shooter must be held accountable for his actions. But consider the events leading up to the incident.
How damaged was this person? How many years of torment had he undergone? How many harmful, emotionally degrading words had he been tormented with throughout his life?
The shooter’s gun inflicted physical pain or death upon his victims. Nevertheless, the words that pushed his behavior are as much to blame. His tormentors may not have dirtied their hands with the pistol’s trigger. But their actions – or rather, language antics – played a role.
It may not be obvious to the untrained eye.
Without an open-mind, one will never provide the above sentiment much thought. Accepting the notion that society has somehow enforced a killing is difficult. What an individual proceeds to accomplish in his or her life is personal. But their actions, including those activities considered harmful, are brought on by words.
Language Is Powerful
It can transform, inflict emotional stability, and uplift the disheartened. Unfortunately, it can also invoke serious damage, leading to wars, personal conflicts, and public shootings.
When you next consider spewing toxic, hateful choice words – think.
What damage could ensue from this statement? Talk to your children about language. Discuss its wondrous, albeit severe, capabilities. Stop them from using words to bully before it’s too late.
Consider your loved ones, friends, and acquaintances during your next status update. Will your newest post inform, educate, uplift, or sadden? Decide on your ultimate goal before uploading. You may not realize who you’re harming by not properly analyzing your next move.
Be careful in your use of words.
Don’t take poor advantage of this fantastic tool. Language is an asset you shouldn’t abuse.
Take care when communicating with others. Be aware that most highly controversial conflicts began from mere conversation.
No, you won’t please everyone, but you can avoid violent, unnecessary arguments by speaking with caution.