We get inundated daily by a torrent of words—some plain gibberish, others informative or inspiring, a lot of them we wished we never heard because of their crassness or irreverence.
Words, it seems, have life. Because their meanings or implications fuel our imaginations and emotions, words can send relationships down slippery slopes. Just look around us. Broken marriages. A divided nation. Because of hurtful, stinging words.
As a Bible-believing Christian and as someone who’s built her career on disciplines (broadcast, advertising, public relations and marketing) requiring sound communication strategies, may I offer my two-cents worth on the business of words—words and concepts being the foundation of any sound communication:
1. Words are powerful because they come from the Creator Himself.
Genesis 1 tells us how God spoke creation into being. “Let there be light,” were just the first of these words.
Jesus Himself is the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)
It’s interesting how many businesses and products built their successes on words or principles which marketing and advertising people refer to as business strategies or unique selling propositions—like Disneyland building itself to be “The Happiest Place on Earth”, Nike inspiring ordinary athletes to “Just Do It”, or Apple following its “Think Different” philosophy, be it in company culture or product design.
2. The higher the authority of the one speaking, the weightier the words.
God used words and still uses the Word—the Bible and Jesus per se—to teach us how to live; with millions of lives transformed by the truths they’ve started to believe.
“The Filipinos are worth dying for,” spoken by the exiled Ninoy Aquino who challenged the Marcos dictatorship, has continued to reverberate through several generations of patriotic Filipinos.
Words build up. They also destroy. So those in leadership positions must be extra careful of their words and actions.
Martin Luther King, Jr., champion of Negro emancipation in the 1960s, still inspires Americans today with “I Have a Dream”.
In his 1961 inaugural speech, John F. Kennedy exhorted his fellow Americans, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
How weighty indeed were Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and his fiery speeches which inspired an entire nation to say yes to the annihilation of the Jews!
Which brings us to the last point…
3. Words spoken by those in authority or positions of power take a life of their own.
Especially nowadays when information is quickly accessible with just a push of your smart-phone app, politicians and celebrities’ words get uploaded or broadcast in real time—without much chance to edit or window-dress their carelessly-uttered thoughts.
Words build up. They also destroy. So those in leadership positions must be extra careful of their words and actions. Those on top of the totem pole speak louder than anyone’s words or actions.
My main point: As audiences and responsible citizens, how should we respond to the words and behavior of our leaders especially when they wantonly lie, curse, take pride of their shenanigans, or use their power for their own ends?
“Pray for them,” says the Bible, even as we obey the laws. They too are our duly-elected representatives, so they are accountable to both God and the citizenry. They need to be warned if they exceed their bounds, for they certainly face God’s wrath.
“But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul,” Ezekiel 3:19.
We are Filipinos. We have a soul. Just giving up and allowing someone to abuse and divide us is a disservice to our nation and our God.
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