i hear in my mind all of these words

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…

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39 thoughts on “i hear in my mind all of these words

  1. I like your idea of words as beach glass, soft and gentle, filled with the wisdom of time and life, cherished and collected and looked at often. I also see words as another sort of lens, like on a camera, through which I can really see life focused and clearly. They definitely have a beauty all their own.

  2. That’s a horrifying story!!

    Words do have power! It reminds me of “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” The opposite is true, words do hurt! And words can haunt a person for years and years.

    Props for the Regina Spektor reference. : )

  3. Your writing IS beautiful. The article from the Times is SO chilling. Chilling is the perfect word. I just honestly can’t imagine NOT wanting to live or telling someone their life wasn’t meant to live, you know?? It’s just absolutely terrifying. OOH! And you should DEFINITELY listen to the new Taylor CD. I’m listening to it right now:) Having a dance party by myself…hehehe.

  4. Life and death are in the power of the tongue.
    – Proverbs 18:21 (paraphrase)
    It’s so easy for me to forget that, but it’s SO true. We often don’t even realize how our words affect people. I can think of several things (both good and bad) that have been said to me that changed my life…and I doubt any of the speakers remember saying them.

  5. Yes I had wonderful professor in one of my communications classes who told us how that phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” is the most untrue statement ever coined. And that words can often hurt you more than any physical blow could.

    http://www.clarabelleblog.com

  6. Hey Abby, Wow! That is a sobering story. And it’s so true about how powerful our words and even attitudes can be. My mother always quotes a Bible verse to me about this exact topic. I’m not really religious and I don’t know the verse (smile), but it talks about how hard it is for a person to ‘bridle their tongue’ and also relates the tongue to a ‘fire’ or ‘unruly evil’ that no man can truly tame. I’m trying to tame mine, as I want to always be loving even in stressful or angry situations. It’s hard though. I won’t be doing any William F. Melchert-Dinkel stuff, as that is just ridiculous. But I have a feeling I’m going to have to keep your article and this topic in mind in reference to my mother-in-law (smile)!

  7. What a horrifying story. There’s a reason why they say the pen is mightier than the sword. Words can kill and maim and cause heartbreak in ways that a knife can’t.

  8. I love the first image – so incredibly brave and strong. That story is horrendous: why would anyone do that? A great post – reminds me to think before I speak, so often forgotten in the rush of the day.

  9. I am with you, words can kill or heal, it is very important to always guard whatever i will utter or write, thanks for writing this post, I appreciate it very much

    With Love and Fondest Wishes
    Jemina
    xoxo

  10. It’s sad to see people who would use other people’s weaknesses to their advantage. But I’m glad that there are people who represents the first photo. Have a gorgeous day! Kellie xx

  11. oh wow that’s a really sad story. i believe the world is full of amazing people like yourself! keep spreading the love!
    x
    thatgirlfromhk.blogspot.com

  12. I totally agree on you with this one. No wonder many people are resorting to suicide because the pain inflicted on them are beyond repair. I hope violence like this could be stop 😦

  13. Words do have so much power. I still remember some of the words that have been tossed towards me (both good and bad) when I was a young girl. Even though years have passed and many of these people are no longer in my life…the words remain. I loved hearing your own purpose as a writer. I think that we have a responsibility to bring hope and peace into people’s lives! Thank you for bringing a little brightness in my day. I appreciate you!

  14. That is so horrid there are no words. That there could be “pro-suicide” sites is bad enough. That someone is utilizing these sites and is encouraging people to kill themselves is downright disgusting. How could such a person be given the right to become a nurse? How could he have kept his license as a nurse despite a lack of respect for his job?! And how could the police, and other authorities continue to ignore Ms. Blay’s amassed intelligence for such a long time?!
    Just goes to show that there are really despicable people out in the world and those who are supposed to help us in getting them off our streets often aid these crimes by refusing to listen to our pleas for help.
    And it also shows that a kind word from a stranger can go a long way for anyone and we should keep that in mind and continue to spread love 🙂
    Thanks for dropping by my blog!

  15. Your post makes me truly think of how I should write and speak to people, especially people I care about. I’ve also been very careless with what I wrote and ruin some of the relationships I hold dear! That taught me a lesson that words are like a sharp knife..it can cut you and leave you a deep scar. Thanak you for sharing!! xoxoxoxoo

  16. Great post and though provoking. Words can indeed be powerful tools and it’s such a shame when they’re used in the wrong ways.
    I do think that more people use words to build up others strengths, rather than tear it down.

  17. Wow, that excerpt from that article is very chilling. It is scary what some people can do. I agree with you about how powerful words are. I wish more people realized this and were more careful with their words and chose to build people up, instead of tearing them down.

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