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Pennsylvania, United States
What changes hath time wrought...mostly a different hair-color, a few wrinkles and loss of short-term memory.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Power of Words

My mother was wordy. She would get on the phone and talk to friends for hours. As a kid I really couldn't understand what on earth she could talk about for so long? As a maturing adult and mother I'm finally getting it. Words comfort and confuse, inform and instruct, destroy and damage. Not speaking at all can do all the same things. Words do much, much more than I've listed here, but this is a good place for me to start.

I wonder what my mother recognized about herself in me? My daughter is only 7, yet besides looking a lot like me, I see her social side being very similar to mine at seven. She's quiet and reserved. Some would label her shy. But shy she is not: she willingly performed in front of hundreds of people in dance recitals. She banged out "When the Saints Go Marching in" at her piano recital and never had one butterfly flutter through her stomach. I'm like that, too. What gregarious people don't know about us quiet types is often we just don't know WHAT to say. I used to avoid people I knew when I would spot them in public places. I'm sure the word snob was used more than once in a discussion about me. It's only been the last 10 years I've understood this about myself. Then my mom passed away 5 years ago and since then I've rarely NOT known what to say to people. Here's the point I want to make: that person you think is uppity because they don't speak to you may simply not know what to say. I used to think that about some folks. Then it occurred to me that I don't speak to them: why should I expect them to speak to me? I'm hoping my daughter jumps this hurdle well before I pass on. I had great fun in grade/jr./high school and college but I still wonder how things would have been different if I'd been who I am now back then.

Continuing on with the power of words, I've been boning up on my Leonard Cohen. My cousin is a huge fan. Mr. Cohen is in his 70s and I'd never heard of him until recently and was quite surprised to find some of my contemporaries were also fans. (I just reread my first sentence- no double entendre intended.) Sorry Sally, but I'm not a big fan of his sound, but his musical messages are phenomenal...Democracy
is one of those songs. Click here for the lyrics: http://www.lyricstime.com/leonard-cohen-democracy-lyrics.html
I'm not sure when this song first came out but it's message is so relevant today. Being patriotic is great but it's not the same as being democratic which was the goal of our founding fathers. Dictionary.com's definition of democracy-
a state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges. As long as we are all part of the US we need to find some way of leveling the equality of rights and privileges. The folks trying to bolster democracy in the US are often called Socialists. There's a powerful word right there. I'm sure that word strikes fear in the heart of baby boomers and their parents. I had a HUGE fear of socialists/communists/USSR because of a 4th grade Sunday school teacher who described a nuclear holocaust for us. Of course it was perfectly OK that WE had nuclear weapons. We wouldn't use them for anything other than to protect ourselves. I had nightmares and lost sleep for I can't remember how long worrying about that final blast. Communism. Socialism. Democracy. Republic. Capitalism. They are just words. And all of them are noble in their goals. The problem begins and continues when those given the power to implement these forms of government forget about their constituency as a whole and use it to give power, wealth, and security to a select group. Now, I'll bet that most people do not want or seek extraordinary amounts of power or wealth. We know that happiness doesn't involve either of those things. But the security of knowing your basic needs and the needs of family and friends and neighbors will be met IS a huge component of a civil society. Mighty civilizations have crumbled when disparity between the haves and have-nots crushes their spirits and they rise up in revolt. There's another powerful word: revolt. American Revolution- a good thing. Economic Revolution- inevitable. I've written before about my absolute revolt when I see what bankers, CEOs, celebritiesand athletes are paid. I keep thinking about the people I think should be making ungodly amounts of money. They perform services I could never in a million years do myself. Some include: dental hygienists, sanitation workers- anybody who has to clean up after hundreds/thousands of other people, pilots-the stress must be overwhelming, hair stylists-check out people on the street... would you really want to run your fingers through their hair?, any doctor who must examine body parts that are normally hidden- again check out people on the street- yikes! I've lost my way a bit here...politics gets me fired up.

Then there's the power of words used specifically to destroy: the disrespect given politicians. I understand free speech. But some free speech may be hurting our political system. Democrat or Republican: I feel the same for former President Bush as I do for President Obama. They are the leaders of our country. Treat them with the respect due someone who has agreed to take on this daunting job. Why would anyone want to sunject themselves to this kind of ridicule? I really believe by constantly monitoring their every word and action we are draining the pool of qualified candidates to lead our country. The worst part is somehow we believe our President should know EVERYTHING about every subject. I've written about this before. It should be OK for ANYONE in a position of power to answer a questions by saying:"I don't know the answer to that. It's a good question. I'll have to do some research."

You know, I suppose for many this is blah, blah, blah. But it's good therapy to get out things that my brain believes needs airing. I think of the best subjects to blog about when I'm in the shower or driving the car. Then when I have time to sit and type it's not nearly as good as what I'd composed in my cranium.

To finish, being wordy is a wonderful talent to have. My late mother was a fantastic conversationalist. I rarely heard her say a bad word about another person or even situation. And for a woman who talked a lot in her 76 years that's a fantastic achievement. I hope my daughter and I follow in her colloquial steps.