Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Am I the only one who thinks that is a load of male bovine fecal matter? I’m a writer so I know words have power. An atomic bomb can level a city. The right words can destroy a country. Don’t believe me? Ask Czar Nicholas what he thinks of Lenin. It is a great and powerful thing to write the right words.

Dickens said so much with: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.” Sydney Carton’s testimony at the end of A Tale of Two Cities has a meaning that goes beyond the ink and paper. It is a concept that even the most wasted life can have redemption and the most bloody of revolutions can result in the birth of a society.

Tolstoy shared a powerful thought when he wrote: “It’s much better to do good in a way that no one knows anything about it.”  It has a Gospel-esce sense about it. Whereas, Cervantes has a more cynical view when he allows Don Quixote to say, “I have always heard, Sancho, that doing good to base fellows is like throwing water into the sea.” Perhaps the two quotes feed one another. Keep your good deeds to yourself, if not for the sake of humility, for the sake of your reputation as an intelligent person. For the record, I disagree with Miguel’s thought.

Steinbeck showed some introspection when he wrote: “I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.” That line made me consider how many people I have missed in my discontented winters. I know I have missed out on many people who could have made impacts on my life in ways that I cannot fathom.

Perhaps the most amazing words for me come from Douglas Adams. In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, his words say, “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.” I have no idea if it has a metaphysical, mystical, masonic meaning. I simply find it hilarious. Sometimes people need to turn off their brains and laugh at utter silliness.

Sticks and stones can break bones, but words can change the world… or at least they change my world.

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