Saturday, 16 December 2017

Beneficial power of words used well

THE anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy 50 years ago has been much in the news recently.

THE anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy 50 years ago has been much in the news recently.

One of the things President Kennedy did during his period of office was to make Winston Churchill, our wartime prime minister, an honorary citizen of the United States.

In his speech at the award ceremony, Kennedy said of Churchill that “he marshalled the English language and sent it into battle”.

On another occasion it was said of his speeches to parliament and the country that they were worth an entire army, such was their effect in rallying the nation.

Words have power, so much so that St John’s gospel equates “word” with God himself.

“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God” (John 1:1). That power, however, can be used for good or ill. To heal or to hurt, to express love or hate, to uplift or depress, to enrich or diminish.

This argues that we use this power with very great care. A word uttered in anger may cause a breach that takes years to mend.

“Words once spoke can never be recalled” (Dillon). But one spoken to encourage, to strengthen, can bring hope to a broken or damaged spirit.

Perhaps the first need is to recognise that we have this remarkable gift, then to understand its potential, then to think how we may best use it, for let it be used well, and not only will others benefit, but we also.

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