Clichés … Clichés are cliché because they are soooo … damned cliché!
“The pen is mightier than the sword”. There is an absolute truth, first written by novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839.
Fantastic wisdom. And, now, shockingly, reduced to an ordinary cliché.
Every writer, actually everybody, must understand the power of words. The power of words is astoundingly far beyond that ubiquitous cliché.
So much good, and even more importantly, bad and evil in the world started out — starts with words. To the good, no more powerful words I can quote that some spoken by Churchill, Nietzsche, Voltaire, Keating, Orwell, Nabokov. And, certainly the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., without equal, the greatest orator in our lifetimes.
More so now than ever before in history, people become desensitized to compendiums of words, however unacceptable, even despicable, if repeated often and forcefully. Social media has been a turbo-boost accelerant: people become numb to words over increasingly shorter and shorter time.
Social media, those mostly sophomoric outlets that have and continue to cheapen and inexorably alter the social fabric, are destroying any pretense of thoughtful expression. Those make millions perhaps billions of people believe they are capable of independent thought! Nah: 99% of them end up in solitary confinement with a keyboard. And believe that anybody beyond first-bloodline folks (ok, not all) cares about them.
However, abominations like Twitter/Instagram/their brethren have created essentially free and unfettered vehicles to disseminate all manner of at best claptrap thinking. And mostly, just mindless keyboard pounding. The very intent of their devotees is what a “warning” label should be: “Caution: what you write may be combustible!”
And, perhaps a lawyerly-worded warning about potential cancer of the intellect.
Loathe to point to the intellectually and morally perplexing words of Goebbels, however astonishingly those came to be, well, prophetic, driving the singularly most successful public relations event in history: the rise of German fascism with Hitler at the helm. Frighteningly prophetic and apropos right through the decades thereafter: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Ok. Ok. Perhaps, regressively adjusting for the passage of time, certainly since ancient Romans and Greeks.
As people become desensitized to words, perhaps a matter of ordinary survival, they elect to ignore their destructive power. Worse yet, entire segments of populations, astoundingly all social and economic sectors of the populations, by definition including the relevant electorate, simply adopt them. Thus making all those dictums acceptable.
Those then morph into accepted concepts by either widely and by relevant segments of populaces. Once widely adopted, naturally those mutate into entirely sickening social norms.
Beyond that, one can readily predict the natural progression to social, economic, political actions. And genuine disasters.
“How a love so right can turn out to be so wrong…. “ That from those philosophers of yore, the Bee Gees.\
Not picking on the boys, however, using their remarkable and convenient sing-song words as a frame for the danger in throwing about awesome words, with seeming disregard for their power. That, not a flashing yellow light. Rather, a solid red! The corruption of powerful words and the sometimes-concepts those trumpet. Or bely.
I hold A. S. Neill, who coined those words in 1960, a genius copy-writer. For their powerful simplicity and amazing symbolic value. The value of those words, I opine, lays even more in that the antonym is absolutely unacceptable for all who are not institutionalized or indefinitely incarcerated: “Pro-death.”
“Pro-life” still requires embellishment when explaining one’s inexorable such stand. “Pro-death,” on the other hand, requires a rather complex—moral, religious, scientific, social—discussion.
Positive thinking. Positive imagery.
Just think positive while bathed in the appropriate imagery, and all that will come through.
Not hawking Tony Robbins – he does not need my help making massive bank deposits – but his new book Life Force … is relevant in his long-overdue confession of the failing of all his prior teachings. Paraphrasing him, standing in your garden wishing the weeds to go away, will not make that so.
Imagery should not be dismissed as elegant snake oil. In fact, it is a very powerful thing. Even I confess to having listened and read some Robbins. The man is spectacular at what he does. Particularly, how he does it.
I will further confess to having attended a couple of “tent revivals.” Even some of the descendants of those: TV preachers. Now: there is some uber—awesome horsepower.
However, powerful words and imagery, if not tethered to tangible efforts, is Swiss cheese without the cheese.
BLM: Black Lives Matter.
But for hard core misanthropes, of course Black lives matter. All lives matter.
No need to wonder how many supporters of Black Lives Matter, the movement, have read beyond those powerful words. I opine none other than academics and enlightened people.
What does the movement stand for? Is it as its founders decreed? Is it rabidly chauvinistic with nary a mention of men? Yes. Does it advocate the destruction of the nuclear family? Tragically, yes. Violence to solve all ills, real and imagined? Yes.
The founders of the “movement”, ignored or as it is now revealed, cared not at all what their words engendered. They were neo-fascists, unyielding in their sexuality and supremacy, masquerading as trending Marxists, inexorably committed chauvinists, and, ultimately, morally bankrupt extraordinary thieves.
Their corrupt jibe was adopted by two constituencies, as economically and socially divers as imaginable. One of those, the by-and-large victocrats, who focus solely on having been and continue to be victimized. And, therefore, live in an inexorable economic, social and legal quagmire, and do not seek understanding, acceptance, equity, and absolute inclusion. Rather, redress by whatever means, including violence. And their acceptance that mob violence is merely reflections of a collective frustration..
The other constituency, bent over to their knees under the crushing weight of misguided wokeness. Ultimately, morally and intellectually bankrupt, thus, corrosive to the path forward for all.
What happened to the over $100 million in donations to BLM? Where did all that money go? Certainly, in the pockets of its founders, including the burgeoning real estate holdings of its principal founder. Well done, Ms. Cullors. All donors, who did not bother to read the BLM charter: “Don’t [that] make [your] brown eyes blue”? (Thank you Crystal Gayle.)
Where are all those BLM supporting signs heretofore on windows and websites of all those businesses during the burning 2020’s? Do Black lives matter less now that the movement has been somewhat unmasked?
Of course Black lives matter! But, the awakening to the fundamental dishonesty of the movement has taken hold.
Well, certainly you all get all this.
Best consider that never has any concept, beacon of life, utterance of a fundamental value, ever fit on one line on a “post it note”.
Mind your words carefully. They are much more lethal than any sword.
©2022. Steven J. Manning. All rights reserved worldwide. Any reproduction, in part or whole, in any medium whatsoever is strictly prohibited.