Sunday, March 8, 2009

In the beginning there was the word

Words are the units of language that we use to carry meaning, to ascribe value, to speak or write our truths. Throughout the history of the world, words have been perceived to have a sacred power, one that could be constructive or destructive. Like living beings, words have an origin and a history. They change form over time, they adapt to their environments, and they carry a lot of energy.

Energy is from the Greek word energos which means "active, working". It is also the word we use to define all kinds of natural phenomena. We also know that energy is converted from one form to another, but it is never created or destroyed.

Somehow, in popular culture, we have come to devalue this mighty vessel, the word. "B*tch" is a safe curse word these "hell." Few people born after 1978 understand why all the fuss over the word "nigg@." Our language continues to be misguided, aggressive, or straight up violent. It does sneak up on you:

  • "Let me hit you back" is synonymous with "Let me call you back"
  • "Holla" is actually a greeting.
  • "That's my nigg@ right there!" is, today, a phrase used to announce a proud kinship in regular everyday talk amongst Black people...just like it was regular everyday talk amongst White slave owners when they were referring to their human cattle.
  • "Guys" is synonymous with people - men and women. That grates my nerves. Not long ago, it was acceptable to open a letter with "Dear Sir." That was standard business communication. And it wasn't that long ago when the people would be blanketed referred to as "mankind." That has changed. Modern language usage in today's society has indeed evolved to be less oppressive and less disrespectful to women...except on the "guy" thing. People can't seem to shake that one.

As our minds expand, so will the words we use and the meanings we ascribe to them. Best that we stay focused on the fact that words house energy. They can brighten up or darken a room. They can nurture or negate our own sense of worth. They can even help guide a nation into a new way of thinking. Yes, they can.

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