24 Dec The Power of Words
Humans are, without question, the dominant species of Earth; we’ve become so powerful, we could destroy almost every other species with the push of a few buttons. Our impact on our environment is incalculable; at the same time, we are part of it, born from it. How did it get to this point? What step in our evolutionary path brought us to the pinnacle? It’s impossible to pinpoint one thing; cooking meat might have given us bigger brains, having opposable thumbs made tool use easier, and the ability to hunt over long periods of time made us an unusual predator. One thing that undoubtedly gave us an edge is communication; the power of words.
Words allow us to convey precise information; while other animals can point and signal, with words, we can say things like “I think that antelope has a bit of a limp” or “You can use a rock to sharpen another rock and get a super sharp rock”. That’s obviously great for hunting, but analyze the second example more closely and you’ll see why language is so powerful. When you know you can use a rock to sharpen a rock, and you have the language to convey it, now your kids will know too, as will all the other members of your community. They can then spread that knowledge to their kin, and eventually, everyone in the species has, essentially, adapted a new trait.
As Peter Parker knows all too well, though, with great power comes great responsibility. When we use hateful language, that hatred can be transferred to kin, through community, across generations. When we use language to ascribe certain qualities to a race, or a gender, or a body type, that too can transcend generations. What’s even scarier is that when everyone around you is using language to describe you, you begin to use that language to describe yourself; it enhances your own fixation on negative qualities you might have. In that sense, language can become a sea of self-fulfilling prophecies; “every word is a prejudice”, as Nietzsche said.
The flip side of that rusty coin face is that positive, affirming language can lead to us focusing on the good in ourselves. When we feel like the world is on our side, and we love ourselves, we can confront the things we don’t like about who we are, or how things work, and we can work to change those things. There’s a positive feedback loop to be made here; when other people use loving language, and are mindful about their prejudices, we become more positive ourselves. Our own self-love will lead to us using positive language in our own lives; love in, love out. Our kin, and our children will have the same experience, and just like that, the world is a better place.
You can hire event speakers who have mastered the ancient art of, well, speaking! They know not only how to be mindful of their language, but how to use inflection and gestures to bring people into the story; there’s more to speaking than just words, after all. When they speak, the people in your organization will listen, but more importantly they’ll talk; to each other, to their friends and family, about the positive messages they heard in the speech. Event speakers: making the world a better place, one speech at a time.