Thursday, June 21, 2007

Oprah's Town Hall got me thinking

This morning as I was getting ready for work I saw about five minutes of the Oprah show. It was a repeat of the Town Hall meeting following the controversy over Don Imus' racist and misogynistic remarks a while back.

It got me to thinking about the power of words and the way I was raised. My mother was a brilliant, articulate, classy Lady. Most aggravating when I was a teenager - she was almost always right.

When I was about seven I came home from camp with additions to my vocabulary. You can imagine. The first time I used them, my mother said "Well, I suppose you could use that word, but it doesn't really mean what you want to say. There are so many other, better words to describe your feelings." So I found some. It worked.

About the same time Mom was driving a bunch of us home from Sunday School and was cut off by another driver on Lake Shore Drive. She said "I've got a good seven-letter word for that person." We, being smart-alecks, said "Oh, go on Mom - say it. We've all heard it before." So she did. "That guy is a real stinker!"

When I was in college I worked for a temporary office help agency. Coincidentally, I was assigned to work reception at the magazine office where my mother was the editor's assistant. There was a wall separating our desks, so I could hear, but not see her. One day I heard "DAMN IT!" from the other side of the wall. Every executive in the place came flying out of their offices to see what was wrong. My mother never, ever swore. So when she did - it had power.

I learned the power of words from my mother. Say what you mean. Criticize people for their actions, not their heritage. Save profanity for when you need it. Don't dilute the power of words.

1 comment:

Rachie-Babe said...

Oh, this is so true! Words are powerful things. One of my goals is to talk less, listen more and REALLY mean what I say (I have the tendancy to tell someone how a the clock works, the history of the clock, and give the annotated bibliography of where I got that info if someone were to ask me, "what time is it?")!!!