Sunday, February 19, 2012

Power of Words

In my downtime I play a computer game that's basically a world-building premise. If you quit the game before you win, it flashes a statement across the screen.

You abandon your colony!

Abandon. That's such a...negative word. I just want to shut down the game because I need to cook supper, or I'm tired, or I have an appointment. But I don't want to abandon my little people! See how that works? Abandon as a word has power.

During my time as a writer, I've been continually struck by the words we have chosen as power words. Fuck. Penis. Nipples. Why? What about them makes them intrinsically powerful? They're everyday, ordinary words in the English language, yet we endow them with power far above what they're worth.

The youth of our country have devalued the word fuck to the point it basically has no meaning. There's no shock value anymore when you hear this word. It's not even useful as a swear word when you hit your hand with a hammer. They use it as a noun, verb, adverb, adjective, and heck, for all I know, even a preposition. Overuse of a word devalues it very quickly. Think about some of the other overused words you hear everyday.

What if we quit worrying about the overused, shocking words and started focusing on words that really have power? Words like responsibility. Accountability. Honor. Dependability. Honesty. Generosity. Compassion. These words used to have value in our culture and society. A man or woman strived to live by these words. What if we went back to a time when these words had power?


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