Breathing New Life Into Our Words

There is no scripture in any of the sacred texts that I've ever read that quotes God as saying, "Thou shall not be pissed off!" I'm sure of it. I've looked because I carry a certain amount of that old-time-religion guilt that says things like, be polite, even to jerks and don't be rude to your elders. But, lately I've been getting "pissed off" a lot and that, while not a sin, is certainly unhealthy.

     The conversation went something like this:

      "Man, she said that to you? Word?"
     "Word, Man. She said that I didn't have the brains God gave me. That's low."
     "Word! I'd be pissed, too!"

     I was riding the bus while in Houston recently and overheard this conversation between two young men discussing the distress of one of them being dissed by a woman. The use of the word "word" drew my attention. Word, as in "for real" with a question mark and then Word again, as in "for real" in answer to the question. Then the exclamatory "Word" as in "I can't believe it" word that agreed with the response of the other man that "Word! That was low!" By now, you're wondering where I'm going with this. Word! Just Word!, said more about the conversation between the two young men than all the other words combined. Word? Word. Word! Three distinct meanings. One word. And we wonder why we can't understand one another. Except--they did.
     For all the standard articulation that we have as grownups, we miss some serious nuances of the human language. It isn't just what you say, but how you say it. George Bush was the consummate player of words, but it wasn't what he said--they misunderestimated me--but how he used our getting mad at his ineptness as our failure. We were rude and that was unconscionable. Reporter after reporter fell into that trap and while it made for great late night comedy routines for folks like Leno and Letterman, and while we were unhappy with Bush and his Bushisms--he was having the final Say. We may have had the last word in our discussion of him or even to him, we just didn't get that he still had the power. Word! Even when the guy threw his shoe at Bush, certainly a proverbial word of protest, Bush Had The Final Say!
    The power of words. What does that mean. In my world, it means making something happen, but truth be told--that ain't the truth. My children always could have the final word. It was my gift to them because as they had the final word, a word that I usually met with silence, I knew that I had the final say! While my daughter blustered and fumed and said all manner of things about how unfair I was, that I wasn't a good Mom, or whatever it was she hollered out, I had the final say. She cleaned her room or washed the dishes or got off the telephone. Because I said so!
     I'm beginning to realize that often we rate the power of words by who has the final word, that has nothing to do with having our say. Having our say doesn't always equate into words. And words certainly don't equate into getting things done. If we're not careful, words become lip service. You know--the it's a great idea and I'm all for it when in reality you don't think it has a snowball's chance in hell of happening. Lip service is the flapping of the gums and not saying much, if anything. So, when I realize that after weeks or months of saying the words, I find that we do nothing about them, I think--what a waste of time and effort and yes, words. Wouldn't it have been simpler to say, "Hmmmm. Great idea, but no thanks." Then I can just go do something else. No, that'd be too easy.
     So, here I am, pissed off again and wondering what's the use? Then it hits me--smack between the eyes. You know why getting pissed off isn't a sin. 'Cuz it's even worst than a sin. It's a waste of time. I don't mean that one shouldn't get angry. When the indicators start pulsating that there is a reason for your growing indignation, you should pay very careful attention. Anger is a barometer of sorts, measuring the pressure that builds up inside of us as human beings and when blown--watch out because you may be the casualty. That becomes a crisis of self and negates most of the good that was being done because in the end you blew and they didn't. At the first sign of anger, my first rule is to "duck" 'cuz something is being hurled at you. My next rule is to "stop and plan." Don't react. Only when I misjudge my barometer indicators do I find myself in difficult-to-fix situations--I've blown my stack! Then I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get back on track. Enough!
     Understanding the power of our words can be a wonderful adventure.
     "Yeah! Word."
     "So, what's the plan?"
     "I'm gonna collect the words of the people?"
     "No? Word?"
     "Then what?"
     "Then I'm gonna help them become the final say!"
     "Word up!"
     "You got it!"

P.K. McCary is fast-becoming the peacemaker with an attitude. Word!


Popular Posts