We talk… to each other, about things in which we have an interest. We talk, sometimes to ourselves, because we are trying to get the right or wrong of a problem or question. Millions, maybe billions of words have been written on almost any subject you can think of. This is what one of our better Presidents had to say: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” That from John F. Kennedy. There’s another one, by a sitting Senator that I think has a lot of merit to it also. It’s this by Senator Rand Paul: “The founders never intended for Americans to trust their government. Our entire Constitution was predicated on the notion that government was a necessary evil, to be restrained and minimized as much as possible.”
When you read the Constitution, and you should, often, you come to realize that the government IS being restrained from doing a lot of things that, if they did it, would cause ANOTHER revolution. No, the Founding Fathers, having just gotten rid of a dictator, knew exactly what they didn’t want and they put that into the Constitution. In reality, very little is allotted for the government to do, and if we held them to those restrictions, we might be a lot better off… but there’s no guarantee on that.
Words have been around long before the printing press was invented. The press made it possible for many people to learn about something, and it may have started out as being something of a plaything for the rich, but as time went on and people saw the benefits of KNOWING things, they paid more attention to the written/printed words. I shudder to think of what sort of world we’d be in if there were never any books printed. Probably we would not be in the advanced state of civilization that we are, because the information that we needed would never have been printed. Imagine the scribes copying the Bible, making sure that every single letter was correct, or it would have to be done over, from the start. Everything that we think we know today was first just words, and most likely in a book.
Plato, a historic figure by any means, is widely considered the pivotal figure in the history of Ancient Greek and Western philosophy, and he was the innovator of the written dialogue and dialectic forms in philosophy. I daresay that the greatest majority of our thinking, about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, if I may borrow a phrase, can probably be traced back to Plato, Aristotle, or Socrates. Their words, carefully preserved by the scribes have come down through the ages and are still, to some degree, governing how we live among other peoples. Perhaps, when we abandon those words, is when we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, as it were.
There have been so very many brilliant people through the millennia, who have said things that we quote every day and, for most of us, don’t really know where those quotes originated. Take, for example… ”Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.” That is but one of many of William Shakespeare’s borrowed sayings. He, probably more than anyone, has contributed a lot of things we say casually. How about this one, and I’m pretty sure you’ve heard the first line… ”All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”
Words, if they are spoken, float in the air, to your ear and, if you’re lucky, will stay in your mind… but mostly they go in one ear and out the other. Now, if you READ those words in a book they will stay with you much longer… perhaps even long enough for you to understand the meaning. Yes, we hear a lot of things during the course of a day, and for most of us it doesn’t register unless it’s told to us as a secret of some sort, or we are TO repeat it to someone else, then we MIGHT remember it. One Steven R. Covey put it this way: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Many times, I have been guilty of that very thing and sometimes, because I didn’t listen, I reply with something that’s just not germane to the conversation. Then it makes me look like six kinds of idiot, and deservedly so.
Folks that are in love may sometimes use words that they’ve heard, but may not know their origin. One of the most beautiful lines is “How do I love thee…” and it’s from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnet 43. Lovers, from all over the world I’d guess, have said those immortal words and never knew what came after them. Believe me, those words are not just beautiful but they’re the best way I know to impart your feelings to your loved one. So, as we’ve seen, words are important… they can comfort you, they can hurt you and they can go in one ear and out the other without any meaning.
Parting shot: Please, consider your words when you speak.