“Words... They're innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they're no good any more... I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you're dead.” -- Tom Stoppard, “The Real Thing: A Play”
Whether you believe it's true or not, you've heard the story of David and Goliath. You're familiar with the story of the young man who---in a move of faith---managed to defeat the giant Goliath with nothing but a slingshot and a rock. A kid. A rock. A slingshot. A victory. One stone---just a stone a boy picked from a million others---was the center of a story that has lasted for centuries, a tale that is legend. A stone.
That Biblical account brought to my mind a very important thought: that everyone of us carries with us a bag of stones just like the boy David. Only our stones aren't physical ones. They are are voices. Our words.
One toss of a rock onto a still pond is able to send ripples across the water's surface---from bank to bank. That rippling effect can be beautiful, serene, playful or frightening in its subtle power. Because---just think about it. That one tiny fragment of hardened earth has the strength to disrupt the entire quiet of the pond's surface.
The same stone, if tossed at a mirror's glass, has the ability to shatter that once-pristine surface and destroy the mirror. One striking blow can turn the reflective glass into a spiderweb of cracks or it can completely destroy it by rendering it into a heap of glistening shards. Either way, the mirror is destroyed. By one stone.
And it is so with our words. It's a little scary to think of the power contained in each and every one of us---not just authors, but anybody.
Our voices. These stones we carry inside us. They may not seem like much, but they have the ability to hurt others, the power to destroy relationships. They can be the impetus to ruin others if they're thrown by those with influential voices. Words can soothe. They can arouse. They can make love. They can lead. They can follow. They can frighten. They can bully. Damn, they are powerful little things. And so versatile in their scope of uses.
I wonder about David and Goliath. Surely David had the experience with having used his slingshot to know just which size stone to use. His young mind must have, after enough use with this primitive weapon, known to calculate the stone's size to know it's projectile capability. And just how much momentum would be needed in order to---in just one shot, since that was all he would have---hit its target and fell it.
And our words have to be weighed just so. Because they are extremely powerful.
As an author, or anyone whose voice finds its way to this new technical marvel---cyberspace---I feel it's a responsibility to use this power within us...these stones inside us called words...wisely.
I feel that people who have the fortune to be influential to others should take advantage of that wonderful privilege to use their words to build, not break down. To encourage, not to discourage. To make peace, not battle. To soothe, not to wound. To support, not to bully. To make changes for good.
Voices may seem like nothing but little stones. Those like me who aren't in positions to influence in big ways can still use my words for good. Even if only one person hears a word of encouragement from me, hears a smile in my voice, then I've used my voice wisely.
Maybe my voice alone can't stop hatred, bullying and bigotry. But my little stone, mixed with multitudes of other stones, CAN.
Whether my own words will ever make wonderful changes in my universe is doubtful, as I'm a tiny stone among many.
But one thing I do know. Sometimes I might use my words to make quiet ripples on a pond's surface. Because that stone merely makes its ripples, just to show it was there, then drifts to the pond's bottom without having done any harm. And sometimes I will use my voice in a bigger way---for whatever it's worth---to blend with other voices for equality.
I hope, though, never to use my precious stones to break mirrors.