Words are one of the means through which we express our thoughts. When we communicate, whether through spoken or written words, we need to be responsible. It’s important to choose words accurately and build clear sentences. We want those with whom we communicate to clearly interpret and understand our exact message. Accurate word choices can paint a clearer word picture or message for the person receiving our communication.
Words are powerful communication tools. Words can stir up emotions in people. They can make people cry, bring comfort, stir up the desire for action in people, and even make people angry. Words can call people to action or put them to sleep. Words can spread encouragement, happiness, and love or they can spread discouragement, discontentment, and hate. They can make a piece of writing exciting and mysterious or dull and lifeless. Words can deceive, discourage, and even destroy other people. Words can also stir up a mob mentality and a desire in someone to create a gang or group to either do good or destroy and kill.
When we write, we need to carefully consider the words we are putting out there and the people who are receiving our messages. Is it good to stir up anger in that person? Is our message building up someone or tearing them down? Are we intentionally creating a ruckus that will stir up others and cause destruction or even death? Have we done our research? Are we spreading truth or lies? Are we deceiving others with our advertisements?
God’s word, the Holy Bible has a great deal to say about our word choices. Proverbs 18:21 tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 15:2-5 KJV says, “The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life; but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit. A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.”
In James, chapter three scripture tells us: “Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” (…) But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”(James 3:3-10 KJV)
The thoughts we thing and express through speech can also be expressed through writing. In our writing it’s important to choose words that build up and spread life rather than deceit, destruction, and death.
If we use our writing to persuade people to act or do something in regards to a cause or issue, we must be careful not to stir up evil, especially mob mentalities or panic. If we choose controversial topics we must take extra care in choosing our words. We can stir up anger in peoples’ hearts and, if the wrong people grab on to our words and incite panic or violence, the consequences can be deadly!
1. Find a newspaper or news magazine. Look through the articles and find one or more that choose words that could stir up or add to a conflict between people. Make a note of the words or groups of words that might possibly incite a mob or start a riot. Did the writer make responsible word choices? Did the writer present both sides of the controversy? Write a short article or essay about your discoveries. Keep it with your writing papers to remind you to be responsible with your word choices.
2. Take your newspaper or news magazine from part 1 above and look for stories that spread life such as articles that encourage or inspire someone to do good, stories about people helping other people, stories about good things the governments do to help people. Look at the word choices of the writer. How do they promote life? Write a short essay about your discoveries.