Handle with Care

John Keats, Guy’s Hospital, London, Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons


 “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”  John Keats

“I believe nothing of any beauty or truth comes of a piece of writing without the author’s thinking he has sinned against something – propriety, custom, faith, privacy, tradition, political orthodoxy, historical fact, literary convention, or indeed, all prevailing community standards together.”    E. L.  Doctorow

Over a lifetime, I’ve accumulated a veritable treasure trove of words, a rich vocabulary that has proven useful in so many ways –  to identify nuances of emotion, to relate something of importance, to communicate with loved family and friends.  And certainly, if I have to someday account for every word I’ve spoken, we’re going to be there a long time!

Words are deeds, living and active.  These words can create universes, as God spoke light into the chaos before the creation.  The author of fiction can create such intricate worlds that we are loathe to close the book on them at the end of the story.

Words have impact, and many a childhood taunt has never been forgotten by the recipient.  They can break down strongholds, as the prophets of old demolished the pretensions of arrogant kings.

To speak the truth is a risky thing, and still today journalists can be subject to death threats or imprisonment.  Words expose, like the child who reports “the emperor has no clothes!”  We need the people who speak out against a fiction that can be subscribed to by entire communities.  In doing so, they loosen the iron grip of fear and greed.

Someone writing a memoir may need to be painfully honest about events in their lives, though they may fear being being ostracized by people they care deeply about.  By courageously digging deeply into their own truth and sharing this insight, they can enable healing and freedom for others.

This amazing power of words – to do great good, or cause incalculable harm.  Handle with care!