The inspiring Dr. Maya Angelo said: “ words are things I’m convinced, you have to be careful what words you use and you must be careful what words you allow to be used in your home, someday we will be able to measure the power of words, I think they are things, they get on the walls, they get in your wall paper, in your rugs, in your upholstery, in your clothes and finally into you”
Many spiritual teachers lead us to believe that words don’t matter, they are mere sounds we humans make which have no real meaning except in the context of our social conditioning. I was personally soothed by this perspective when I heard it being said by my favourite spiritual teacher Matt Kahn, especially after I was (as an immigrant) subjected to the racist: “why don’t you go back where you came from?” which in most developed societies is considered hate speech; according to Kahn, however, a hateful phrase such as that should not hurt my feelings at all, unless I was continually conditioned and completely saturated since childhood by social norms that had me believe that such words should and must hurt me. Therefore, no racist remark should in any way effect me more than the sound of a dog barking or a crow cawing! As much as I find this argument plausible I can’t get over the personal aspect of words, and if the situation was reversed, should I take “I Love you” said to me by someone I care for personally? My immediate answer is yes, but something deeper, my conscious perhaps almost whispers no! we are as beings in the end eternally separate and alone.
As a poet and an aspiring writer I value words, I use words as therapy, I use them to feel and make others feel, words move and inspire me. No longer being of any religion but interested in reading widely I found the old testament’s treatment of words intriguing; genesis: “In the beginning was the word, and the word is God and the word was with God”.
Although I recognize the harm of verbal abuse and take it very seriously, I can’t help but to have a place in me for Kahn’s theory.