Words have meaning

Words have meaning.

They have consequences, regardless of what we want to believe. They are fueled by thought and disseminated through action. We may try to write them off as “only words,” but words are powerful and consequential. They have meaning.

Words provoke action. They are at the base of every powerful political speech, every heartbreaking dramatic scene, every rousing pep talk. Words incited 60s racism. Words helped change culture. Words drove people to elect a black President.

We live in a word that’d dominated by communication, and we see that communication take many forms. Ultimately, the base of all communication is words, whether they’re spoken or written or inferred. Everything that’s posted or said or sung or stuttered out in Morse code can be interpreted and comprehended and acted upon.

Given enough build up, words can cause panic. Passion. Hatred. Fear. Violence.

You can use your voice to rile up a crowd to the point that they begin throwing bricks through Starbucks windows. You can post inflammatory hate speech against local politicians. You can rouse your followers by asking them to “reload.” You can literally target – and we mean literally, here, with maps and little target symbols and names – those who don’t subscribe to the same ideals.

You can do those things. But you can’t stagger backwards and claim you had nothing to do with the result. You can’t call for a pizza and act surprised when one shows up at your door.

Jared Loughner may be a pot smoking conspiracy theorist. He may be a kook-bird Tea Party activist gone wrong. One thing has been revealed, however: he believed in the power of words. He sought their truth. He understood their consequences.

He was led by words. He acted upon words. He killed in the name of words. He killed innocent people. He killed a child. And he did it upon the back of someone’s words.

We don’t yet know whose words.

But don’t let anyone EVER tell you that whatever they say is “only words.”

Words have meaning, damn it. Pity it keeps taking death to remind us.

This was lovingly handwritten on January 10th, 2011