On Christmas Day, words matter. Words instruct, direct, organize, manipulate and reflect how we see the world.
Words manifest reality and camouflage it. Words help us resolve conflicts, but often create them, too. Religions and revolutions start with words.
As a Russian immigrant, I cannot help but have flashbacks of Soviet Russia. Stalin and other Soviet leaders started each campaign against a particular segment of the population with rhetoric.
Before arrests and executions, there were always verbal attacks and smear campaigns in the media. The lists of people who were destroyed were long, and no one was safe.
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It all began with words that altered the psyche and made it easier to hate from fear. Words helped create the fear, which permeated everything. Media, controlled by the Soviet government, falsified and manipulated facts to fit the political agenda. Truth was almost impossible to verify. So why, in the age of the internet, when fact checking is easy, the most advanced country in the world, whose voice we held in the highest esteem, suddenly does not seem to care about the truth? The gap between words and facts has grown into a chasm, making it hard for there to be discourse between people on opposite sides.
It is popular to quote the Bible as a defense for almost any idea. So why the backlash against political correctness when it is an extension of, “Thou shalt treat thy neighbor as yourself?” Words hurt, and words may lead to violence. But words also heal.
Words matter. It pains me that children who learn about the world in the next few years may be contaminated by the words of hate, bigotry and bullying. It is easy to hate, much harder to love and so hard to find understanding for the opposite side. We need to stand and defend the words that have meaning for us all: freedom to make our choices, equality and kindness to each other.