Words Have Power, Use Them Wisely

Words Have Power, Use Them Wisely

Marlon Brando once said to an interviewer, “Human behavior has always fascinated me.” Me too, Mr. Brando, and the other thing that has captivated my interest is the words that come out of people’s mouths and with the advent of Social Media, the words they type. Words and behavior impact others, and sometimes it’s not in a good way. Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” The memory of the words or events lasts a long time, long after you forgive the person or the persons involved.

When I was a child, I broke my thermos in my lunch box. Being frugal, Mama bought me a replacement that didn’t match my Flipper themed box. I was fine with it until I was sitting at the lunch table enjoying my food when a group of girls walking by, maybe two or three years older than me, decided to stop and make fun of me with my replacement thermos. “What’s the matter?” the leader of the preppy clique said. “Your mama can’t afford to buy a new lunch box.” They said more, but I don’t recall the rest of their mean-spiritedness.

Except for one girl. She didn’t care for the other’s behavior. “That’s not nice,” she said, looking peeved. Not sure if her words shamed them or if they got bored, but they moved on, probably to ruin somebody’s else day.

This scene reflects the world we live in—although there are indeed plenty of jerks, there are still good people around.

Tucked away in my memory is the story of a tragic death of a young man. One of his friends, understandably upset, but in his arrogance said this, “Why did it have to be him? Why couldn’t it have been some trash?” while looking at someone I knew well. The person who said that was somebody I respected, but that ended the minute I heard about those words. Unlike that elitist chump, death is no respecter of persons. It grabs the rich, the middle-class, the working-class, the pretenders, and the poor. Hope he’s learned that lesson by now.

What makes his comment different from others who grieve? Many, including myself, have wondered why God took a loved one when there are so many evil people walking around untouched and carefree. The difference is this:  he said it to this person’s face.

One of scenes I just mentioned involves children, and the other involves adults with one of them acting like a child. I’m willing to bet none of the bullies in either case remembers these events. Nonetheless, feelings were hurt, which formed scars, by careless words flung out by condescending dimwits. Ms. Angelou was right.

The Bible says it best concerning the danger of the tongue in James 3:8; but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. That pretty much sums it up

People’s fingers can do some damage too. Social Media verbiage is more dangerous than the spoken word. Here’s my reasoning. We’ve all heard this, “What comes up, come out,” when it pertains to someone who speaks his or her mind. Some people have a faulty gate on the wall between what’s in their minds, and what comes out their mouths. Words slip out, and we’ve all done it. The words zoom out at lightning speeds, and they often require a typical, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say that,” to do some mending.

The written word is different. One has to stop and think to make the letters of their words flow through their fingers to the keyboard or the keypad. There is no slip of tongue, no Freudian slip, and no what comes up, comes out. Writing or typing requires more thought than an in the heat of a moment verbal argument. Not only does one type the words, they also have to click Post or Send. There are plenty of opportunities to quit before the destructive words go out.

I learned early in my career in information technology the best thing to do when you’re angry and want to strike back at someone is to never, ever send an email when you’re angry. Some of the best advice I ever got came from an I.T consultant I worked with after I returned to the hosiery manufacturer I worked for as a machine operator. We were going through a difficult implementation, and he told me this:

“When someone’s made you mad, done you dirty, or whatever, and you want to tell them off, open an email and do not, I repeat, do not put any addresses in the To, CC, or BCC fields. Say everything you want to say to that person and then save it. If out of habit you click Send, you’re safe because you didn’t list any addresses. Doing this gets it out of your system, and it keeps you out of trouble. A few hours later or maybe a day or two, read it again. Most likely, the anger will be gone by then, and you can delete it.”

I’m glad I learned that early in my career; I’ve typed up quite a few of those venting emails. I’ve also typed a few angry posts, only to delete them before I clicked Post. Sometimes it’s best to just keep scrolling.

If the actions and words of others have hurt you, charge it to their minds and move on. Don’t let it define you, which is what I did for a long time. I’m doing a lot of quoting in this post, so here’s another. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I once allowed that to happen to me, but not anymore, and neither should you. God put each of us here for a reason. We each have a job to do. Let the negativity, the narcissism, the meanness flow away from you, and be the best you can be while you fulfil your purpose. And do not forget words have power, use them wisely.


Featured Image Photo Credit: 134563597  – the word Danger in Binary Code © v1_one — Fotolia

© Dee Hardy | Encouraging the Discouraged, 2017. All rights reserved.

Missing Hero

Dr. Meg Meeker wrote an article entitled, “Your Daughter Needs a Hero,” in which she discusses how fathers can help their daughters. Girls need an authority figure, protector, a hero. For some of us, our hero unwillingly left us much too soon. I was four years old when I lost my twenty-eight year old father to a heart attack. The loss has affected me all my life. When other girls were going places with their dads or their dad chased a boy or two away, or greeted a date at the door before allowing his daughter out, my Dad’s body lay in a grave in a small cemetery by a country church. Although he’s been absent, my Daddy has been and still is a huge influence in my life.

My memories of my Daddy are few, but precious. I can remember him being on the stage of the auditorium of a local school, which is now a private school. We were sitting in the car with Mama, and I turned and looked toward the building as Mama was driving off. He was standing there on the stage, smiling, and singing. Years later, when Kim was little and appeared in Kindergarten plays on the same stage. I remember telling Dan my Daddy was on that same stage singing some thirty years before.

A snapshot in my memories is of him and Mama joking around. Another flash is of my cousin Carolyn and I drinking chocolate milk in the car while watching our Dads walking back from fishing at a local pond. If there’s a fishing gene, it’s in our DNA.

On a fall day while playing in the yard with my cousins at their house, we headed toward the front door. My Aunt Sarah stopped us at the door, and I caught a glimpse of my Daddy lying on the sofa. He appeared to be sick. Aunt Sarah came outside with her camera and took pictures of us, I believe, to keep us occupied and away from the house. She took us around back, and as I turned around, I saw my Uncle William and a neighbor helping him to the car. I never saw my Daddy alive again.

Those are the only memories I have, but I am grateful for them.

I don’t remember this scene, but Mama said it happened not long after Daddy died. She found me crying while sitting in a swing of the swing set Daddy put together for us not long before he died. She asked me, “What’s wrong? Why are you crying?” She said I replied, “I don’t want my Daddy to be dead.”

A few years later, while looking at some photos of him, I asked Mama to name somebody my Daddy looked like. She told me he favored Marlon Brando, the Brando of the 50’s, so I searched through movie star magazines, no internet back in those days, of course, to find pictures of a young Brando. I compared them to the few photos I have of Daddy, and sure enough, my Daddy favored him.

Mama instilled his love of music in us. Daddy was one of those fortunate people who could teach themselves to play music, like the acoustic guitar, steel guitar, Mandolin, most anything with strings, and sing. His talent came from God. He and some of his close friends formed a band that played at different functions around the area. Years later, whenever I ran into any of them around town, they reminisced about Daddy, telling me what a likable, talented, and witty guy he was. Mama kept his memory alive, and these good gentlemen helped her with that task. They have no idea how much I appreciate their sharing their memories with me.

Daddy steel guitar and baby_2

I think if Daddy had lived and because I love him and loves me, we would’ve compromised on the music. He was a true, straight to the bone, Country and Western music enthusiast. No, he didn’t like the Beatles, and no, I don’t particularly care for most Country music. Mama said he used to tease my cousin Edna about the mophead boys from Liverpool during the early days of Beatlemania. Yet, I think he would’ve loved The Beatles’ “Don’t Pass Me By” from their album The Beatles, aka The White Album— a sweet little song with Jack Fallon’s fine fiddle playing and a sweet mixture of Country & Western and a bluesy melody. He would’ve picked it out on his guitar, no need for sheet music because he played everything by ear, we would’ve learned the words, and maybe even me playing the guitar a little. I can see us now, singing, laughing, having fun. If only…

I’ve wondered why God took my Daddy so young, and what our lives would’ve been like, with the exception of my older sister who died as an infant, our family intact and together. Though missing from most of my life, my Daddy has always been and will always be my hero. I love you, Daddy, and I’ll see ya again someday. Oh, the music we’ll sing and play when that day comes.


© Dee Hardy | Encouraging the Discouraged, 2015. All rights reserved