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The power of words

Mar 2, 2012, 12:36 PM | Article By: Adelaide Mendy

A few days ago, a youth on a rampage gunned down students at an Ohio school, claiming three lives and injuring others. Reports are claiming that the suspect T J Lane was probably a bullying victim who acted out his frustrations. Such incidents have happened in the past with the Virginia Tech tragedy being one of the more horrifying of the first decade of the twenty first century.

Just a few weeks ago, I dwelt on cyber bullying, its horrendous effects and the dire need to fight against it. Prior to that, many reports have been made on the epidemic that is bullying. Yet, another fatal incident in connecting with it has occurred. Like most wrongs, it seems condemning it on a global scale is simply not enough to put a permanent stop to it. This kind of misconduct is probably one of the worst kind of torture anyone (especially minors) can endure because unlike physical scars, the bully most likely does not fully comprehend  the extent of the damage he or she has caused until it is too late, likely culminating in either the bullied becoming the bully with outcomes such as but not limited to brutal attacks (including shootings) or suicides, Collectively, we need now more than ever to work towards breaking a cycle that is steadily but surely claiming more lives.

I still get the chills whenever I think about the Virginia Tech and Columbine massacres. It makes an individual seriously ponder about what the world is coming to when people glory in propagating hate. The news certainly is littered with man initiated devastation, worldwide, and governing bodies are either unwilling or not paying enough attention to the crux of the matter. How can we ever hope to solve a problem if we do not first look to its origin? Only then can we begin to understand it.  In some parts of the world, bullying is an offence and carries a sentence of its own. This I believe is a step in the proper direction because it will serve as a deterrent, and in so doing awareness is gradually been created.

I want to dwell on an element of misconduct, verbal abuse and how we do not give it much thought or weight. After all, what is in a word, right? A lot! Words have been known to make or break individuals. Whoever came up with the quote ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but mere words will never hurt me’ must have been living in a different world from the one we occupy. The reality is that, life and death are in the power of the tongue. Grievous and negative words are bound to stir up trouble or strife with negative outcomes and consequences.

In this age of development, with business growth, one aspect that most entities are key to protect is their reputation. The devise strategies to minimize or guard against reputational risk, fully aware that one negative concept voiced out could have a catastrophic effect. This stresses how crucial the spoken word is and how careful we should be when it comes to our tongues.

Rudward Kipling couldn’t have been more apt when he said that words are of course the most powerful drugs used by mankind because depending on how they are used, they could either have a medicinal or deadly effect. We keep saying that youths are the future leaders, so why not start cultivating in them the power of the positive word, one used to inspire, motivate and encourage. Else, what sort of future are we banking on if we are not making the necessary moves to prevent us cultivating a generation of damaged children, ones whose self esteem and self worth have been diminished or destroyed.

As a child, I used a nonchalant attitude to protect myself against the occasional taunts of my peers and I know all too well just how unconscionably cruel kids can be at times with just a snide remarks perhaps for the sake of a cheap thrill. Words have been described as being like a knife or scalpel in a surgeon’s hands. It can be used in either a positive or negative way depending on the skill, expertise and care of the said surgeon. Let us all take responsibility for our words.