The Power of Words

Hello, my name is Denise, and I’m addicted to books. My reading addiction began when I was a teenager. My friend Brenda had begun reading Harlequin romances, and she let me borrow one. I was hooked from the first read. The emotional rise and fall of the plotline pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go. So I bought a few of my own, and we traded books for the rest of our high school years.
In the beginning of my writing career, I called myself a romance writer, but I don’t think that’s really what I am. In those old Harlequins, it wasn’t the romance that attracted me. I particularly enjoyed stories where something or someone sinister was lurking in the background of the romance trying to keep the couple apart. It was the conflict that hooked me. Would the hero and heroine overcome the odds to be together? The suspense always pulled me along to that moment when the couple overcame whatever obstacle they faced. Yeah, that was the moment that got me. The romance...that was just lagniappe.
The power of words has always fascinated me. The right words strung together can enlighten, entertain, inspire, frighten, soothe, motivate, or destroy. I’ve always loved the power of words, but lately, that power has begun to scare me. There have been a lot of powerfully negative words spoken or typed in the last couple of years. Not just here in the United States, but all over the world. Angry words. Mean-spirited words. Degrading and condescending words. Hateful words.
Sometimes, in the midst of all the ugliness, someone will say or write words that are encouraging or uplifting, but it is hard to find positive words when the world is inundated with so much negativity. At times, there is so much meanness that it seems that is all there is left. It’s overwhelming. I live with the constant awareness that something bad could happen any moment and change my life forever. The depth and intensity of the hate makes me want to crawl under my covers and hide from the world. But I can’t do that, can I? Isolating myself isn’t good for me or for the world I live in.
During the past presidential election in the United States, I have kept my opinions to myself, at least, publicly. My opinions are going to stay with me. This isn’t a harangue at either the right or the left. I’ve seen ugliness come from both ends of the social and political spectrum. No political ideology is immune from this disease.
Please, for the continued existence of humanity, if you engage in contentious or controversial conversations, I beg of you, don’t call those with whom you disagree ugly names. That’s not going to change their opinion or yours. All it does is make you look like an asshole, and it feeds the frenzy of anger and hatred that seems to be boiling over in the whole freaking world. So stop already. Before you tear someone else down because you really don’t have a good argument to support your shallow opinion, take a deep breath before you speak or write. Back away from the argument. Is losing your decency worth being right? Because words aren’t just words, they can be two-edged swords, not only cutting the one you attack, but stabbing and killing your humanity. Hatred, anger, and bitterness are the poison pills one swallows in the vain attempt to destroy someone else.

If you can’t manage to respect someone or their opposing opinion, at least, have a little self-respect.
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