Sometimes we forget that words are very much alive. That we can use them like swords, and that people can fall from the hearing. It is eerily easy to make someone feel as if they want to die by a few mis-chosen words. This example should be evidence for that.
New York Times article:
The seemingly empathetic nurse struck up conversations over the Internet with people who were pondering suicide. She told them what methods worked best. She told some that it was all right to let go, that they would be better in heaven, and entered into suicide pacts with others.
But the police say the nurse, who sometimes called herself Cami and described herself as a young woman, was actually William F. Melchert-Dinkel, a 47-year-old husband and father from Faribault, Minn., who now stands charged with two counts of aiding suicide.
How chilling is this? It’s an example of someone who used the wrong words quite skillfully. Many of them actually fell for it. The combination of someone who seemed very sympathetic, while encouraging them to go find a rope to hang themselves, and their vulnerability.
While definitely not as bad as this example, I know that I can be someone who is at fault of using words carelessly. There have been people who have been hurt from the things I’ve said, long ago, who still hold those words inside their hands, even now, though they hurt at the remembering. I regret that.
It’s frightening when I think of how powerfully words could be used for all the wrong reasons. As a writer, I have that power. I could say all the right things to a person, but then again, it is so easy to slip into saying all the wrong things and making them feel even worse than they already do. It’s sobering. And almost makes me want to stop writing, sometimes.
But words can be beautiful things. They can be used to build as well as to pull down, to strengthen as well as to weaken, to love as well as to hate, to heal as well as to wound, to forgive as well as to
By them we can cast stones, aspersions, judgements of worth. Perhaps that is the most dangerous of all.
I hope to be the kind of person who handles words as if they were the most precious of beach glass, slowly formed by the wearing of time and the sea, and not as the stones cast at the woman in the street.
And to the photographer of the first picture, you are so incredibly brave…