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  • Writer's picturedennisharris04

Words Can Cut To The Soul

The pen is mightier than the sword and words can cut to the soul, two things you may have heard in different forms over a lifetime. Words put together to form a sentence or a statement can be one of the most powerful things there is. Those words whether spoken or written can change a dynamic to a very powerful outcome, for the good or the bad.

There is a Russian President that with a signature decided that it would be in his country's best interest to invade a peaceful country. The rest of us watch hoping that other world leaders say the right things and don’t sign any declarations of war themselves. They are hoping that the Russians will be held accountable without starting a third world war. A situation where we can’t do as much as we might like but send some aid and heartfelt wishes for the Ukrainian people and hopefully provide some refuge. Essentially it all came down to the peacekeepers from the West and the Russian president having a breakdown in communication where their words and thoughts could not find common ground.

It got me thinking about what these leaders do in their personal lives because oftentimes that is where most people pick up the habits that they take into the rest of the world. We can really start to make a difference in our personal lives by forming habits that will change things for the better. The way we approach things by how we speak and write can be the difference between a good interaction and a terrible one. At any moment, depending on the timing of and how a message is spoken or written can be life-altering for a person. I believe most people can reach each other with spoken or written words with an intelligent approach that has honest want for the most productive outcome.

There are times when a situation can go very badly, but certainly, well-placed words at the right time may change the dynamic. I can share a situation recently where I was picking up an accused to facilitate court and take him to prison. He had fought with arresting officers while being arrested and it didn’t stop once in cells. He had flung feces all over the place and had to be changed. When arriving at the jail to pick him up the next day, I started to bag his stuff and he could see me putting all his things in one bag. He became enraged because apparently, I was bagging his dirty clothes from the night before with his clean effects. Something was telling me to approach the situation differently because I knew no good was going to come from the way everything had gone to that point. I changed the playing field by using words in a manner he probably wasn’t used to, especially in his current situation. I asked why he was mad very calmly, while he yelled and I maintained the same tone and asked if he wanted his bag repacked in front of him. He had to pause because I’m guessing this was an approach he wasn’t used to. He agreed and I did. Suddenly his demeanor was much calmer, I had noticed that his bracelet had a Norse charm on it. I started a conversation about that and we managed to take him to prison without incident. I could write whole stories just on similar incidents where the tactics used here may have never worked because situations are fluid. I suspect this man’s life was pretty rough leading up to that moment, which put him in that situation. At that moment the past didn’t matter, some well-placed words and a little extra patience changed the dynamic of what could have caused an injury to anyone involved.

Our delivery coupled with timing has different results in every situation: how our words will be received and the reaction after. I started to think of the varying degrees of situations like the larger level ones with dire consequences, examples like I mentioned in the beginning, to everyday exchanges. What kind of timing, patience, and understanding would it take to have our words delivered and received with the best results? How many times have you said something in frustration and regretted it after?

I think a lot of us have been on the receiving end or have been the ones walking away from a relationship. How was it left? Was it a heartfelt respectable goodbye, or a brutal break-up? I can remember a woman once telling me I was a hard person to love and maybe there was some validity to that at that particular time of my life. I could write a whole story just about that time of my life and have. She was angry at the circumstance and said some things she probably didn’t mean. Maybe she did, but I still stand by that decision to this day with no regret. I didn’t then and do not believe now what she said, but it gets you thinking, and words stay with you. I’m writing about it now.

I have also been on the receiving end of the written break-up by a girl whose letters I looked forward to reading with excitement, right to the last one. Her words lifted me up in a dark time of my life and then devastated me. She wasn’t brutal about it, but it was the fact that the end had come. So, sometimes it is the context in which words come that sticks with us. Sometimes in life, we have to accept that all things must pass and words really can cut to your soul…

There are times when we will be on the receiving end of the words we never want to hear. What about the positive power of words that transcend all the negative and lifts us up? Positive reinforcement wasn’t big in my house, so I started looking to coaches and friends a lot more to find my way. I have written a more detailed account of what I am about to share, but here is the just of it. My friend looked at me and said,” you are worth more”. That moment has stayed with me my whole life and I continue to reflect back on it…The power of positive words. How many of you have been on a sports team where you had the motivational speech or given it at half time, possibly in between periods? I have been both on the receiving end and the giving end. Something magical comes out of that when the right words are delivered, win or lose in the end. The moment of belief is delivered and it is uplifting to the soul. Words can tear you down, but they can also elevate you to other levels. Think about the first time someone you love tells you exactly that, a lover, your child, or even a close friend. That is a moment of feeling both loved and that you have a purpose. The right words can truly set you on a path of goodness and love.

So what words would it take to change some of the things in our world that still seem archaic and brutal? I know that when I speak and especially when I write, there is the hope that I inspire whoever is on the other end of my words. On a personal level, I hope my words give my friends and family a deeper understanding of who I am at my core. I also hope my words reach the kids and young adults who had a rough upbringing like my own before they get in trouble or worse. I hope they can find a purpose and the hope to find a good path in life before ending up in prison. Hopefully gives them ideas on how to transcend their circumstances and break the cycle of the examples set. Remove the barriers that hold them back, which brings me to my next thought.

If we set aside religion and politics for a moment, what words would it take to find the inspiration for peaceful and better thought-out resolutions? What timing and barriers would have to be removed to find the right words for leaders to create a better world for future generations. If we can find the examples I have mentioned in our everyday lives, at what point will that positivity spill over into how our leaders chose the right things to say in their professional lives?

Whose words inspire you? Who do you hope to inspire?

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Bob Hale
Bob Hale
Jul 15, 2022

I like the aspects you put forward regarding not only what we say but also how we say it. Timing and delivery are indeed the key fundamentals of how the receiver of your words will interpret them. As for the receiver, I also know (much like your examples have portrayed) that their current state of mind and mood (and sometimes health) or situation will dictate the outcome of what we thought our words were intended. What I am a bit confused about in you blog is your final words regarding the ideal of removing religion and politics in order to create peace or better thought-out solutions. I am attempting to wrap my head around this concept of a world…

Aug 03, 2022
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Thank you Bob for taking the time to write a well thought out response, it is appreciated and well received when my writing has provoked thought.

You are right in the sense that it may be very difficult to remove religion and politics, as they both play such a vital role in the foundation of our society. People tend to hold those two things high in their belief system, to the point of finding personal comfort in the fact that it gives them a foundation that makes them feel safe. That brings us to the point you made where it may simply be a case of taking the time to understand other people's religions and politics. That may be asking…

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