The Magnificent Power of Words

Have you heard any speeches recently? Ones that have sent your spirits soaring, and left you with goosebumps? I was listening to a couple of them recently which left me in awe. One is the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln (1863) and the other is the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr. (1963).

Even if you are someone with a passing interest in words, whether written or spoken, these speeches would definitely have you quirking up.

And with good reason.

Abraham Lincoln – casting a vision of what lay ahead for their nation facing a gruesome civil war – said, “we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Martin Luther King Jr. was making a rallying call to fight injustice and racial discrimination. His speech reached a crescendo when he started the “I have a dream” part which included the following soul-stirring statement: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Such explosive speeches can leave us with that spine tingling and hopeful feeling. For book lovers, they are regularly exposed to this feeling from the myriad of books out there.

What Is It With Words?

It makes me ask: what is it with words that make us so drawn to it? The power of persuasion perhaps? Or that it puts to words what we feel and think, that which we cannot put into words ourselves? Or maybe it’s the comfort of knowing that there are those who think like we do.

I think it’s all those reasons. Stories and works of fiction usually give a glimpse into what power words have. However I wouldn’t limit it to only books, any kind of good art can have the same effect. Good movies, TV shows, music, poetry, all have the potential to send you soaring. If you are a consumer of any one of these mediums, you know that there is some latent power in words.

Books are probably one of the hardest mediums to glean any pleasure from. However being a book person myself, I cannot help but wax lyrical about books. Especially fiction.

They say that reading fiction slightly boosts your ability to empathise. They also say that you could potentially work through psychological issues by reading certain fictional books.

While I haven’t gone and done that, the reason I keep reading fiction is because they do a good job in reminding me what I believe in about the world. Though I have written a bit about this before, I can’t say it enough.

Novelist Paul Auster said it well, “Novels are fictions and therefore they tell lies, but through those lies every novelist attempts to tell the truth about the world.

Words would be bereft of power if it wasn’t connected to truth. Truth that tells me that there is hope, there is good, and that good will ultimately triumph over evil, are things I need to be reminded of regularly.

What is life without hope, right?

Consume Good Art

We were always told that TV is junk. Well most of it is. But just like the solution to weight control is a balanced diet, in the same way you simply need to be mindful of what you consume.

I’ve been guilty of watching meme-compilation videos on YouTube, scrolling through Twitter and meme pages for unhealthy amounts of time. These things are fun when you take it in moderation but it’s usually the opposite of what you need.

To tap into the power of words, look out for those movies, shows, books and music with hopeful and redemptive themes. Look for stuff that show you that justice prevails, the weak and vulnerable are protected, that courage and faithfulness in the small things go a long way.

That’s what you need more in your life. More than you think you do.


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