published Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Roberts: Words carry amazing power


by Dalton Roberts

Words play a dominant role in human society, but we fail to fully realize this. We use our words carelessly and thoughtlessly. A writer needs to love words, but even nonwriters should develop a healthy respect for them.

Words are necessary bridges to concepts. You cannot describe or understand any concept without words. Inventors could never get people to use their priceless inventions without words to describe them.

Words cause many divorces and wars. Yet we recite many strings of words because they mean so much to us: "Oh, say can you see ..."

Sometimes a word is asked to do more than any word can do. The Hopi Indians created the word "lolomi" to describe "perfect goodness and everything too beautiful to be grasped by the human mind." In the book "Indian Love Story," a Hopi boy falls in love with a white missionary girl and calls her "Lolomi" to describe his feelings for her.

Words are so flexible that the same word hops over to Samoa and takes on an altogether different meaning and onto another culture where it actually means "death."

Think of the impossible loads of meaning we stack on our tiny word "God." How can three letters hold up to the backbreaking load of describing something so profound. Yet what words, no matter how long, could do the job any better?

In my own writings I often wrestle with words, seeking to describe what I think I see so clearly. Like in this selection:

We talked into the night

her words tumbling out like sweet apples.

Finally

she felt the need to say something unsweet.

Behold!

Sour apple gallant.

Sometimes the contrast between feelings and word meanings can hit you in a shockingly negative way. Like your wife saying, "Oh you darling sweet man, you were not listening at all, were you?" I heard an evangelist literally screaming out venomous feelings while using words like "God," "heaven," "salvation" and "redemption."

I wrote in my journal, "Words that are beautiful and enlightening can become dipped in pure venom when run through the heart of an angry person. We might learn someday to make our feelings fit the words we select."

I heard another minister speak and wrote:

She stood behind the pulpit

and intoned her words

like each word was a gift to the people.

Each word was wrapped

in a ribbon of her love

and printed on rainbow colored Post-its

she stuck all over our minds.

Yes, we ask a lot of words, but their effect will be partially determined by the feelings with which we propel them.

There's a one-letter word that is the most used in the English language. The word is "I."

There's a two letter word we don't use as often as we could. That word is "we."

There are three words that heal the hearts of almost everyone on the planet. Those three words are "I love you."

There are four words that will usually get you a powerful energy boost. Those words are, "How about a hug?"

There are five words that can get you run off from home. Those words are, "May I have a banjo?" (Feel free to substitute "drums.")

There are six words that can make us a killer. These words are "Give me one for the road."

Email Dalton Roberts at DownhomeP@aol.com.

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