Friday, September 12, 2014

THE POWER AND PROVIDENCE OF WORDS

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.” 
 Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind


It is our class theme...and if I am totally open and honest, it is a major theme in my own life as a literature teacher and writer, as well:  The Power of Words....


I will share with you two stories from my life, as well as two very different videos that both address this theme.  In return, I want to learn about YOU, and how this theme is true for you in your life.


Flashback many, many, MANY years ago.  Mrs. Caraway is only about three, almost four years old.  This must have been a significant moment to me because I don't have memories from that far back...yet this one is clear.  My mother had bought me a magnetic letter set and board so that we could practice "making words."  She would move the letters around, and I would watch, in amazement, and listen to the sound of them sliding on the board.  She made the word cat.  She made the word dog.  She made other words.  And then she made the letters spell my name.  


That same day, she had to write a check at the table to pay a bill while I was busy sliding the letters around on the board.  I remember very clearly watching her sign HER name on the check--she wrote in swirly letters, and she had beautiful handwriting.  She wrote in that strange language you all know as "cursive."  I didn't say anything, but as she put the check into the envelope, I remember distinctly thinking to myself: I need to learn how to write my name--how to write these words the letters make in swirls.  That was powerful.  I recognized that power.  Even at three.


Flash forward to my freshman year at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, California.  I was probably THE shyest girl in Honors English I.  I barely spoke.  Our first writing assignment was given:  write a description of a secondary character from Steinbeck's  The Red Pony in his same style of description.  I read the reading assignment we had over carefully.  I noticed how Steinbeck didn't describe his characters outright; instead, he put them into some mundane or routine action, and gave us a glimpse of what they did, how they did it, and the very subtle expressions in their face and words.  He basically SHOWED us who they were.  I wrote my description of Jody's (the main character) mother.  


The next day, the teacher said only one student did the assignment correctly and imitated the style of Steinbeck.  She was going to read that student's work out loud.  I remember the instant she started reading recognizing my words.  THAT was powerful.  She told me that day (aside, later) that I was a writer.  That's what she said:  you are a very good writer.  I still remember those words and their power.  They meant the world to me. 


We are about to embark on a reading of some very inflammatory texts this week.  They may upset you.  They may offend you.  Why?  Because words have power.  They use this power in many ways--depending on the author's intention.  They are weapons of anger and destruction or saviors of grace.  In just four weeks, we will begin reading Markus Zusak's The Book Thief.  You will see the power of words in one young girl's life and the life of her country.  You will see those words hurt and heal.  And you know what?  The experience will be powerful.


I love words so, so much.  I love to play with them.  I love to manipulate them and move them around on the page.  I love searching for just the right one.  They mean the world to me, so this will be probably my longest post of the year (sorry).  I will also confess that sharing the words I have written in my own novels with you in class was a powerful experience for me, too.  


Enjoy these videos.  Enjoy the message they convey.  I hope they move you in your heart so you experience that power working in you.  It is magic.  In closing, I wish to share a favorite quote by Markus Zusak with you...

"I have hated words, and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right."

I hope that this year, you will experience both the joy and sorrow of words so that you, too can fully appreciate and experience their power.


~from Mrs. Caraway with love






61 comments:

  1. Let me start off by saying that those videos are the best. I've seen something like the first one before, but the second one really changed how I looked at words. I think words are really cool because you can just say something and it just means something to people. In the second video, it displayed when you change your words, but have the same idea, it completely changes the meaning and how people interpret it. When the man had written down(I don't know how he did considering he was blind) "I'm blind, please help" people didn't pay attention to him. I think they didn't pay attention to him because they have seen or heard of people that are blind and it doesn't really effect them anymore. But, when the lady changed the sign, it completely changed the reader's opinion of helping him. I think that is really powerful because all the lady did was change the words.

    This theme is true to my life because it impacts people, and me, in so many ways. Just me telling somebody something can either effect them positively, negatively, or neutrally. But the fact that I have the power to either make or break someone's day is kinda scary to me. That just proves to me how powerful words can be. I have to be careful when I talk to people because using the wrong word, and tone, can imply a meaning that I wasn't trying to convey at all.

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  2. I love what you said about it being kind of scary. That tells me that you really do get it. :) That power IS scary, and it should be considered every time we speak to someone. I also like how you mentioned the importance of word choice and tone because that totally can change the perception of the message. Thanks for your post!

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  3. I must say that these videos were extremely touching. The first video was very cute and I love how it showed how simple words can affect two people and even their relationship with each other. The second video I found kind of cool. I have passed many people with those kinds of signs and it was interesting how just the wording of his situation made all the difference. To be honest, I would probably give money to the guy with the new sign because it pulls at my emotions.

    A long time ago, I truly had my experience with words and how powerful they really are. I remember telling a girl some very hurtful things such as you are worthless, nobody cares about you and so on and so forth. I saw how those words affected her, but I didn't truly know what I had done to her. It wasn't until years later when I had gone back to apologize and when I did she began to weep that I finally understood what power my words contained.

    The actual power words contain is quite intimidating. It is something that you have to be very careful with and have to understand and know how use that power wisely because words can simply change a persons mood to even changing who they are for the rest of their lives.

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  4. "Words can simply change a persons mood to even changing who they are for the rest of their lives." This is the perfect quote to describe what words can do. You are right. They CAN change who someone is. It makes me think about the times when someone's words have affected me so that I felt them physically--they can actually twist in your gut and there really is that strange twinge in the heart when they hurt. Scientists have done research on this, how the effect of the words on the brain translate physically in the body to pain. Not too much different from an actual weapon! On the other hand, words can also give people the courage they need to try one more time, or to push harder to succeed (the release of endorphines and serotonin). Pretty amazing! People of Jewish and Christian faith teach that in creation of the world and all living beings, God spoke them into being. The fact that this was written thousands of years ago tells us that people have recognized the great power of words since humans could first express them.

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  5. I want to start by saying that I thought the two of these videos were very moving. Believe it or not, I had actually seen the second video prior to this entry and yet, had never applied it to the topic at hand. Upon watching the second clip, I couldn't help but find it interesting to see how much changing a simple phrase can impact someone else. I, personally, find a lot of value in complexity and I see it as a sign of a deeper, more meaningful conversation. I think I began to feel this way a while back when I read a few works by John Green. The way he manages to pull in an audience with his use of words to describe even the simplest of topics has mystified the way I perceive dialog. However, I would also like to bring attention to the beauty in the simplicity that was presented in the first video where a couple was able to have a simple conversation without flourishing every word like a romance novel. It makes me think of how impact full simple worlds like, "I love you" can be. Though I do prefer a little more imagination and depth in my texts, I think it really does take a special writer to be able to find the beauty in simplicity and the complex alike.

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    1. Finding the beauty in simplicity. I love that notion. :) Yes, there are times, especially when I read Jamie Ford's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, that I would encounter the most simplistic phrase, and I literally fell in love with the words he chose. Yes, it doesn't often take a lot of fancy words, but often just the right combination of words to create a powerful and memorable effect. Good point!

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  6. Both videos are extremely powerful. The first video I have actually seen many times, but each time I watch it it’ll always touch my heart. Since the first day in your class we have talked about the power of words, and how they have a lot of power. They can break a person down or build a person up. Who could image that changing the structure of words in a small sentence can have such a huge impact? When watching these videos it honestly amazed me on what words can do to someone’s emotions. How changing the structure of “I’m blind, please help” to “it’s a beautiful day and can’t see it” can change the way people react. You must be careful with your words also, because although some words can have the power to do well they can also have the power to do the opposite. Choice your words wisely, because they have the power to change the world.

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    1. Love your last sentence. Yes, words can and HAVE changed the world. I always get a little sad when I hear people say, "I'm only one person. I cannot change anything." I want to then say, "Look at Hitler. He was just one person. A poor, starving, wanna-be artist. He certainly changed the world." I never say that though, because I know it would be misconstrued. My point is, he did change the world, but unfortunately, he chose to "use his power for evil." What would happen if someone used their words with the same amount of passion for the pursuit of good? Great idea to think about. :)

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  7. Oh Mrs.Caraway! This is by far my favorite post, the fact that you shared some of your personal story makes me smile. (:

    Words are powerful. And like Madisyn said, that kind of power is very scary. I find it quite interesting when others believe that words are meaningless and only a form of communication. In the two videos it said otherwise and a lot of people have seen it, so why do people still think that words mean nothing? I believe that it is because they haven't reached a point in their life where they have experienced the true power of words. Words can definitely be misinterpreted, especially when one does not know the hidden power in ONE. SINGLE. WORD. When speaking or writing to someone who has not discovered the power of words, the communication between the two of you could be confusing, maybe awkward, maybe full of tension, but then again maybe it wouldn't be so, not if you make them understand and explain to them the power of the message you are trying to get across to them. At the same time you could be making the other person feel loved or joyful and you would not have realized the impact on them yourself, why? Because words are so powerful even the people speaking them don't always realize it.

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    1. What a great post to read first think on a Friday morning when I log in! I appreciate and am honored always that you are all sharing so much of yourselves with me. :) Thank you, Yulissa! Your post is poetic and true. You brought up two very poignant points here in your post. First, sometimes we do need to take the time to clarify and explain our intentions in a message. Secondly, that we may never realize the power our words may have on another human being. It can even lead to a ripple effect in their lives, as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Yours is also one of my favorites. :)

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  8. "Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair." - Yehuda Berg
    The thing about those videos is that you expect them to be powerful; you know they will move you. The music or scene almost grabs the viewers attention to show them that an important message is coming. But every time, almost without fail, the end of the videos seem to surprise the you with an unexpected twist or message that often stays with you. The Power of Words. I think we often underestimate the effect our words can have on others. Especially in our day and age when we take the majority of our words for granted. It is not uncommon to see couples (especially in westernized countries) throw previously important words such as "I love you" or "I hate you" around. One can often see couples who have only been in relationships for short amounts of times saying "I love you" or siblings or friends yelling "I hate you" in times of anger. But do we really realize what we are saying? Are those newly founded couples willing to sacrifice for each other or are we willing to give up the ones we care about over something as simple as an argument. I believe that in our generation we often use words carelessly but when the time comes for seriousness we tend to welcome both the good and the bad more easily even when others do not mean the words they say. However, I believe that even though some of the meaning is lost in a few of our interactions the Power of Words will still ring true and come to move us for generations. People in the past have recognized this importance and the Power of Words can be seen everywhere. The Power of Words can even be seen in the Bible where God "spoke" the world into existence. In our generation, I believe that words can be powerful especially when they relate to us but we often become immune to most importance because we often do not take the time to stop talking and just listen. As a wise Kirra once said "Choose your words wisely because they have the power to change the world".

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    1. I absolutely love what you pointed out here about how people throw words around that have very deep meanings in a way that is casual. It reminds me of a baby scorpion; it doesn't yet know the power of its venom, so it often uses too much when it "bites," thus baby scorpion "bites" can be more serious/painful. The same is true with baby rattlesnakes. Once again, Ashlynd, your post is beautifully worded and articulate, and I loved reading it! :)

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  9. Wow, now I want to dissolve into a puddle of tears. Thanks Mrs. Caraway. Anyway, both videos were very powerful. I love the fact that the first didn't even have the man speak, just words on the screen or sticky notes passed between them. Then the second used actions to show how powerful words can, not just saying it.

    Words can sometimes do more than actions can, if they are used right. But any time anyone opens their mouth then there are consequences, good or bad. People in today's society don't usually realize how much their words impact other people around them. They toss their words around because they have no filter, and just want to say everything that comes to mind as soon as it enters their head. It can be frustrating when people - and even myself when I notice that I've been doing it - just carelessly say anything they want and don't even consider what might happen because of it. So many arguments have happened between my siblings because they have no filter and just say whatever thought popped into their heads. I'd like to think I've learned that my words can easily impact people. I used to be a lot more outgoing before people saying hurtful words to me pushed me back into a shell I created to block them out. I also remember before I started school that I was annoyed with my sister because she would always read instead of playing with me. Then when I started reading, I realized that there was a whole new world in words, so powerful that they pulled me away from my friends. Sometimes I still just ramble on without thought, but I try to really think before speaking. I like to make sure that what I'm saying is who I want to be seen as. I think people need to reevaluate how their words touch people and learn to filter their thoughts.

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    1. Your personal experience shared here illustrates how words can change who people are. I am so sorry to here that the thoughtless word weapons of others hurt you and made you retreat into yourself. I think that probably happens a lot to kids growing up today. I also love your point about the need to be careful and filter. I realize this is an exaggerated example, but they put a safety on a gun because it has the power to kill and we want some sort of safe guard against accidents. Words also have the power to "kill" in other ways. It is important to think before we speak and filter our thoughts so they don't hurt others. Also, your point about what we say effects how OTHERS see us, as well. The thought you are putting into your words will pay off in the end.

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  10. Both of the videos showed how powerful words are and how even a few simple changes in the words you use can have a great affect. It goes to show that language is important and that it can be a deciding point on how things can turn out. With how you choose your words you may also be deciding on how things turn out in a larger sense. I hate to see people using language and words to hurt others or have a negative affect on something or someone. What makes it worse is when there are many instances of people using words to harm that is all that is circulated between people. No one ever talks about any nice things that they may have heard, it only becomes the negative that people hear all the time. That is a good reason for why people should choose their words carefully, and use them to there full potential to create a positive change in the world

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    1. So true! Watching the news leaves me sad, depressed and angry. If they would focus more on the positives in the world, all that people are doing right now to fight evil, oppression and cruelty, I wonder what sort of powerful changes we might see unfolding in our world? Maybe people would do POSITIVE things and say positive things for attention rather than the alternative.

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  11. I thought both of the videos were amazing! It’s really neat how big of an impact words can have on a person’s day and even their life. I like how the second video showed how the power of words can be manipulated and how it isn’t just the words you use that are powerful, but it’s also the way the words are presented. Just switching a few words around and adding a few in the right places can make the words infinitely more powerful. It’s sad to think how these words can also have a negative impact and that it takes just one person to use words in a bad way for words to be just as powerful but have the opposite effect of the ones shown in the video.

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    1. Yes, and thank you for bringing to light the point about many times it is just re-arranging words to give them more power (either way). Your last sentence resonated with me, too. I remember reading a psychological statistic that said it takes seven nice things to counteract one negative thing said to a person. That really makes me stop and think about what I say!

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  12. Thank you very much, Mrs. Caraway, for sharing those videos and a few of your own life experiences. The videos resonated with me emotionally. They were two clear examples of words making a difference in people's lives, and in both cases we did not immediately see what exactly had happened, but by the end the course of events had been changed dramatically by what occurred. Words allowed the young man to communicate with the woman beside him, and a simple change in words allowed the blind man in the second video to receive significantly more help.

    Words are incomprehensibly powerful! This has been an idea that has been present with me for years, and has been constantly reinforced by the lessons and new understandings I come to with the world around me. What can words do, these arbitrary little nothings that hold no meaning for those outside a language?

    The answer, of course, is everything. Words forge and destroy friendships, they make and break marriages, families, and communities. Alliances of sizes ranging up to an encompassment of the world can be formed, and the entire world can be plunged into a merciless state of total war. Emotions are expressed, reactions are expressed. Ideas are expressed, and problems are expressed. Love, hate, fear, anger, happiness, sadness, pride, shame, exhaustion, readiness, acceptance, rejection, declaration, insult, apology, desires, needs, all of these and far more are expressed by words.

    (cont...)

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    1. With words, societies have long been divided utterly based on differences of as little as a single quality. With words, Christians from all over Europe were inspired to go on great crusades into the Middle-East. With words, the people of England bound the powers of the King and shaped the fate of their nation forever. With words, the colonists of North America rallied to achieve independence from the British Empire, and inspire the world. With words, the French passed through revolutions that would horrify the nations of the world and shake the foundations upon which society had been built. With words, the young Corsican Napoleon Bonaparte rose to become Emperor of the French, and led the French to nearly defeat the whole of Europe. With words, the United States was torn in half, and with words it was put back together. With words the women of the United States gained for themselves a state of practical near-equality to men that had not existed. With words, Adolf Hitler rose to become the dictator of Nazi Germany, and inflamed the hearts of many Germans such that they went to a terrifyingly successful war against the world and against Jews, coming so near to total victory. With words, Martin Luther King Jr. furthered the cause of equal rights for all human beings. In today’s world, with words, politicians can completely alter the public perception of a person, of a group, of a country, of a law, beyond recognition.

      That is such a massive range of power, such power is there that were it to be wielded by a man, we might call him a god. In truth, we all hold this power, and that thought is a terrifying one. To think that in every stranger we pass lies the power to shape our entire lives… in as little as a few seconds, or in a single breath. It is by the words of others that we determine who we are. The words that are used by the people around us determine whether we are friendly, hostile, open, or closed. They determine whether we think of ourselves as smart, strong, or beautiful. They can cause us to believe ourselves to be stupid, weak, and ugly. So much of ourselves is revealed to us by how we react to the words other speak, whether we believe them or not. Words are enough to override our own judgment. A study found that if one is in a group, and asked questions with answers that are obvious while the group continuously gives out the wrong answers, we will answer along with the group. Their answers override our own idea of what is right, and we assume that they must be right in one way or another, even if that is merely to be wrong together.

      Words are powerful, but they must be used in the right way. A man who has trained well, and cared well for a sword, may strike to deadly effect and turn the course of a battle and even a war. A man who has not trained, who wildly beats his dull blade against his foe will have a much reduced effect. So often today we see words that should hold a great power used carelessly and frequently. So many of us swing our dulled blades about like madmen, and then wonder why we have not made a difference. Hitler did not kindle the hearts of his people by chance, or accidentally. He refined his art, and used words in just such a way as to cause the precise effect he wanted. Our words may have unintended effect, which can go far beyond our imagination, but they are never accidental. All words are intentional, and so we must treat them with the greatest of care. It is my hope that all of us wish not to do harm to others, but rather to make a great positive difference in the world. We must be vigilant guardians of our own words, training ourselves to use them for good, and training ourselves to withhold the dangerous phrases.

      (cont...)

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    2. There is much I might share on this topic, for it is a central theme of my life. As you shared your own experiences, Mrs. Caraway, and as you have asked to learn how this is true in our lives, I will share some of my own personal story that relates to this theme.

      The first event that really caused my own understanding of the power of words to come about was when I was a younger boy, of perhaps twelve years of age (it seems a lifetime ago!). I was part of a Boy Scout troop, and we met on Wednesdays for the purpose of furthering our progress in the Boy Scout program, determining and planning for the merit badges we would earn and so forth. My fellow Boy Scouts were extremely off task constantly, speaking always of random things that had nothing to do with our purpose. It was at that time that I first heard the phrase “diarrhea of the mouth” used, and it was in reference to them. We rarely accomplished anything, and at that time I resolved strongly that I would never be like them. I would never speak constantly and carelessly as they did, and I would never cause others to lose opportunities because of my disruption. Their words, and the effect they had, caused my own opportunities in the Boy Scout program to be lost. We accomplished so little and never recovered in the years afterward.

      In school, I make a constant effort to remain silent whenever possible. I attentively listen to teachers, and avoid being off-topic or disruptive to other scholars. I do not throw my words around carelessly, but keep a careful control over them, using them only when it is important, so that my words can have the greatest impact possible, for I do not speak unless I have a reason, and so many will listen carefully when I do choose to speak. I work to preserve the power of my words, and not waste it in an endless stream of randomness that is largely ignored.

      Other key parts of my life have been shaped heavily by words. I have worked for a long time with my writing, becoming very fond of it and developing it over time. I have done this because of the words of others, telling me that I am a good writer, and telling me that I have talent in writing, and other such things, and so with these words of encouragement I develop it further, and receive greater praise, and the cycle continues entirely because of the power behind those words to convince me that writing is something that I am good at, and should continue to engage in.

      I have had several friendships throughout my life, and have seen the ending of some. All of those friendships began with words, those words forming powerful and often lasting bonds, and those that have ended… they ended with words, those words sometimes having such a finality to them that I know there will never again be any relationship at all with that person. This is no coincidence.

      Words are, again, so very powerful. They can do so much for good or ill, and often it is easier to put them to ill use. I have many dreams, ambitions, and desires of my own, but if in the end my accomplishment was to have gotten others to understand the power of words, and to use them all the more effectively for the betterment of the world… I would be extremely pleased.

      I recognize that this is rather long (and the blog does too!), and since I have so much I might say on this topic that runs so deeply within me, it may be that I have in some cases spoken overly redundantly or even in some contradiction. I hope that such things will not prevent the important parts of the message reaching the mind of the reader.

      -Duncan Robinson

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    3. Amazing post, Duncan, and really if there was any redundancy, it was necessary in emphasizing the strength of the power words possess. Thank you for sharing this--and for illustrating so brilliantly throughout time how words have built and shattered empires, yet at the same time on a micro level, they can begin and break bonds of personal relationships. I think we could probably teach for years on this theme in every subject category. :) I think you should save this post as a document - may be a useful piece of writing you may want to develop even further later.

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  13. I absolutely LOVE these videos! I have actually seen the first one before. But every time I watch it, it is like a new experience. These videos are very moving and touching. Words are very powerful. As we saw in these videos the way they used the words effected their lives in a positive way. I liked how in the second video when the lady came and started writing on the cardboard, she wrote the same message, but she chose different words. When she changed the words, we could see that it made a better impact. It helped make someone's day way better. In the first video what I liked is that their friendship started through words. Words are powerful because most friendships start through words. Yet there can be a negative way to use words. Words can also end that friendship or relationship. They can have a negative effect on people depending on the way you use your words. This is why people should choose their words wisely.

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    1. Yes! We have the ultimate choice as to how we will use our words. That is both amazing and frightening. I, too really loved the video about the sign. I can so relate because I love that with a little time and thought, you can move words around and change a message from bland to poignant. Just like the magnetic letters. ;)

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  14. I enjoyed the first video, because it shows that the simple words could make a HUGE difference in the things that happen in our regular lives. I applied it to relationships and how someones like "love" and "hate" could be just as powerful as "Like" and "Dislike". Everyone see's someones situation and depending on the word choice they have make a difference in how you see there situation.

    Obviously with the new words on the board, the mans outcome was much greater! Even though it was the same thing. If that does not show the power in words I don't know what does.

    An example that my mother gave to me is curse words like "damn it" and "dang it" they both have the SAME exact meaning. However "damn it" is WAY more powerful than "Dang it", for the reason saying it could get you fired from a job or kicked out of a class room. Power at it's best.

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    1. Ha! So true! Your mom made an excellent point! Reminds me of the scholar I had back in Cali. He loved using the "f" word. I told him that was a very, very powerful word. But his overuse of it was draining it of its power and effect and he should consider mixing things up in his communication. ;)

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  15. When I watched the first video, i was told that the ending was pretty sad and I was prepared for this woman to go through something tragic like her dying or something.. But my assumption from the very beginning was right and she ended up being deaf. I noticed this due to in the beginning of the video he tried communicating with her and she didn't notice at all... The video didn't impact me through the fact she was deaf, but the fact that he took the time to write out notes to her. In the end he made her feel special because even though she was deaf, he was able to tell her something she is unable to hear for herself through words. This shows what words have the ability to do for someone. The second one made me very sad because the man was blind and people didn't feel pity when they saw him. However just the change in words alone on the sign made people think: wow, this man isn't able to see what i can see. I have this wonderful gift that this man has been deprived from. This also is a wonderful example of how words can force emotions out of people. I thought it was a bit comical that you said you felt the power of the words your mother wrote at the age of 3. It's not a bad thing, its just a bit different because a lot of people don't have any memories from their very early childhood years. However, I wish i had the chance to see how much words can be important and powerful like you did. Maybe my writing would have been better off if i had the chance to see that.. I'm a bit jealous. :P

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    1. Aww, don't be jealous! :) I have maybe two memories total from that early in life (3 to 6). I think the only reason it was memorable is because somehow, I recognized that writing and words would one day be my passion. I love how you described the man and the sign here. Really powerful, isn't it how those who previously didn't notice him suddenly felt compelled to help him. Making the sign about THEM and relating it to THEM was what did the trick. :)

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  16. The second video really connected with me. I could never imagine being blind and how hard it would be. To think about never being able to see the beautiful Arizona sunset or the face of a loved one just breaks my heart. But the fact that a sign saying “I am blind” isn’t powerful and doesn’t move people is also heartbreaking. I understand it though, that a simple change in a sentence due to one word can completely shift the power from what it had to what it now has. Just like the switch of sentences “I am blind, please help” to “It’s a beautiful day and I cannot see it”. The switch made us connect with the man on a more personal level. Simply saying that he’s blind might not get a reaction because we have no experience with that but saying that he cannot see this beautiful day that we can all see makes us feel the guilt of what we take for granted. I believe it isn’t simply one word is better than the other, it’s one word has an emotional effect on us that the other simply cannot produce and thats the real power.

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    1. You hit the nail on the head. By relating the message to something the people did understand and connect to (the day was beautiful--a rare thing in Ireland!) made them realize what that man lived without, and the blessing they had.

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  17. I enjoyed both videos and how they show how simply words affect peoples feelings towards a situation. The first video at the end these particular song lyrics op into my head, "that's the power of love". Not sure why I thought of these lyrics but they make since for the first video because the young man finds a way to communicate with her by using the sticky notes. Communicating by notes instead say with a text message, has more power then a text because you see their expression and their body language. Along with the sticky notes they could keep them and frame them and make something cute of it; that would honestly be the cutest love story. Particularly the second video was very bouncy in waiting to see what the lady has written on his piece of cardboard. In comparisons of the way the lady worded the sign and how the blind man had it worded, it allowed for people to have more sympathy for him therefore being more willing to give him his spare change. The words “it’s a beautiful day and I can not see it” have more meaning to a bystander rather then “I’m blind”. These videos brightened my day in seeing there are people out there willing to communicate in other ways, and the second video shows that there are still individuals that care and are willing to help one in need.

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    1. Yes, me too! I love that these two videos illustrate the power of love to help and inspire. :)

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  18. I had a hard time relating to the first video. I did like how they were able to create a friendship within three days without using verbal communication. I liked the second video. It was fascinating how just by changing words, not circumstances, changed an outcome. This topic makes me think of an old saying; “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. This phrase is so far from the truth. The truth is, words can have a lasting impact on a person both positive and negative. I believe words can shape a person from a young age. The sad fact is, we rarely think about the words we use and the affect they will have on someone. Our words can cause others to press on or give up.

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    1. Yes they can! In fact, if everyone gains one thing from this course, I hope it is that we all learn to stop and think before we speak. So important!

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  19. Words are powerful. They can be used for great things and each video represented that. In the case of the first video the man didn't even know he was having such a huge influence on the woman. Those were just simple words nothing extraordinary but is was influential in that circumstance.
    The second video was also the circumstance that made it so touching. The woman who changed the blind man's sign didn't give him money but she did use words that gave him more of a chance.
    Words can also be used for negative influence. I have experienced this time and time again. Rumors are a very common, powerful use of words. Often they say more about the person who speaks them than the person they are spoken about but it still hurts. I think this quote speaks for itself, "Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall." I wish such powerful words could, more often, be used for the good versus the bad.
    I love words and use words. However, I have struggled with being good at most things that require words because of a word hating obstacle in my life, Dyslexia. It has been powerful in and of itself. Dyslexia has caused me to be slower at reading which caused me to dislike reading. It wasn't until recently I have been able to find an appreciation for reading and have done it more. I also struggle with spelling, proper grammar, and just simple writing. This obstacle empowered me to work harder but it has also had discouraging power over me.

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    1. I would never guess by reading your papers or posts that you struggled with dyslexia. This says a lot about your tenacity and your ability to work hard in adversity. :) I have never been a fast reader, either, but only because I like to savor sentences and squeeze all the meaning out of them. I think that reading more slowly gives a certain advantage and reading experience that speed readers may miss. I love that saying you shared about eggs dropped from great heights. SO true, and relates perfectly to this post. Thank you for sharing these things about yourself. I am honored that you would share that with me.

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  20. I can related to this a lot... I am not deaf nor blind but I definitely struggled with communication. I came from another country a 6 years ago without any knowledge of the English language. I remember going to my first school in the United States in 5th grade and it was not a fun at all. Verbal communication is a very important thing; if verbal communication isn't used properly others might take you the wrong way, even though you didn't mean to offend anyone. It took me 2 years just to be able to understand and speak the English language and still to this day I struggle with my pronunciations and my vocabulary isn't very broad. I remember I use to communicate with my 'friends' back in middle school by doing little gestures to each other and not speak at all and we understood each other perfectly fine.

    The video with the blind man really got me emotional. I love nature, and I can't image myself without being able to see it. After practice the sunset here in AZ is beautiful and that is one of the things that relaxes me after a long day. What if I couldn't see what everyone else could? I would excluded and sad.. I wouldn't know what I was missing.

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    1. Well, can I point something out to you, Soleil? What a HUGE accomplishment for you--coming here not speaking English just 6 years ago, and now here you are in Honors English. That is amazing! :) I think your experience gives you a unique perspective on this topic, too. I, too, love the Arizona sunsets so much. They rival those on the beaches of California. :) It would be sad not to see them--and the fact that the woman pointed that out to others in her rewording of the sign gave that man a connection to everyone else, and they wanted to help.

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  22. Both videos got an emotional rise out of me. For one, they made me feel so fortunate for the gifts of sight and sound. And two, they made me see the true power of words, in a situation where they are not seen, nor heard. As humans, we underestimate the power of our words in the blur of randomness. We underestimate their power to hurt, deprive, move, change, or bring content to another individual. Like Madisyn (I believe) mentioned, it's frightening how the manipulation of words and language can utilize words and their power, just like it was shown in the second video. The word change from, "Help, I'm Blind" to "It's A Beautiful Day and I Can't See It" manipulated the way the public reacted to this mans situation. For some it opened their hearts to give, for others it created a personal connection. The simplicity of these words molded into a phrase changed the way people reacted to this man. It even shows the amount of words doesn't have to be huge to leave an affect.

    Words can twist your gut, play through your mind a billion times, make you cry, put a smile on your face, change your perspective, cause a thud in your heart, the manipulation of words is indescribable, and endless. I feel as though our generation has given away some power to it, some words are thrown around much to easy. For example, "I love you" or, "I hate you". It's like some of our language has lost it's value, but the power and affect hasn't. Possibly no longer as strong of an effect, but still causing reaction. It's the power of the words that remains, even if value doesn't. Sorry, side tracked, but a side note. Anyways, the impression of words is certaintly powerful. And sometimes as humans, we either take advantage, or abuse this form of manipulation. I would say the world needs to remember the power of words, and begin to use it for a positive change.

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    1. I agree. Words lose their power if they are batted around too often in meaningless situations (such as "I love you." Such powerful words, yet people throw them around and don't mean them in the way they should be meant.) I think the sign shows us that when we arrange our words in a way that connects with people on their level (the people don't know what it means to be blind, but not being able to see the beautiful day they are enjoying? Connection!)

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  23. "Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see."
    -Mark Twain

    In the first video, I thought the lady was listening to music, and was surprised to find that she was deaf. The first video, reminded me that there are many forms of communication, and I should not assume that verbal communication is the only form. In the second video, I realized that the use of words that evoke emotions connect the viewer in their own personal way.

    I know how the power of words can be used in a positive way, but also in a way that has lasting effects on people. I try to live by the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I embody the rule because I never want to use my power of words in a harmful way to others. I have experienced the negative power of words in my short span of life. In Middle School, I was bullied by a girl verbally. She made me feel through the use of her words like I was not important, and it definitely has impacted the way I interact with others. I know from my experience that words are very powerful, and can bring joy as well as despair.


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    1. I am so sorry to hear about your experience in middle school. That happens all too often. I love the quote by Mark Twain. So true! And it addresses the fact you pointed out that words can be spoken or written and still carry their power.

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  24. I really enjoyed both videos. It was really crazy to see just how powerful words really are. I know that I personally don't think about these situations too often because I'm not faced with them on a daily basis. It's amazing to see how even though one may not be able to see or hear they can still use words. They can still communicate. It really hits hard to think that not everyone gets to see the sunsets or sunrises and hear the birds chirp or the ocean waves crash against the shore. Yet these people can still use words. It's very emotional to come to this realization of the power of words. It makes me realize the importance of choosing what you say wisely and make sure that what you say has meaning. It's totally crazy to see how changing maybe just one word or the wording of something in general gives it a whole new meaning. It can change something positive into something negative or vice versa. What a beautiful, powerful, and crazy thing words are.

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    1. Exactly! That is what continues to blow my mind about the art of writing: finding the perfect combination of words to impact the human heart or call them into action. :)

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  25. I myself am not a emotional person or one that shows emotion, but this had me in tears. The first video was a romantic little love story, and i loved how towards the end he said 'You're still Beautiful!' because it shows that everyone is beautiful in their own way whether there's something 'wrong' with you or not. By far, the cutest thing I've ever seen though. Now, the second video with the blind man made me cry, because it's really touching. At first, my reaction was 'okay, whatever' and after i saw the sign which said 'It's a beautiful day and I CAN'T see it' had me crying my eyes out. I didn't realize how strong those words were because, I am fortunate enough to be healthy, able to see, talk, and hear, and some people take little things like that for granted as do I. As well as, someone like myself who was bullied from a very young age about my weight, and my appearance from my family, kids in elementary, and just people in public also. Words do affect you, either in a good way or bad. They can hurt you either make you feel better about yourself or someone else. Words can leave you scarred, emotionally and mentally scarred, because I know I am. If someone compliments me I won't believe because, of the many mean and rude things that have been said to me. Words do have a powerful, and strong meaning to them. Some people don't use them wisely.

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    1. That makes me so sad that people have used words to hurt you so deeply. I know this may not be a huge comfort, but you are not alone in that. Unfortunately, there are people out there who feel more powerful when they can belittle someone else. It says more about their shortcomings than yours. You are a beautiful and intelligent girl with MANY possibilities in your future, so just keep hearing me tell you that. :) I love how you shared that when the woman changed the words in the sign, you reacted emotionally because a connection was made. Even though she said the same thing, it was in a different way that made it easier for people who had not experienced blindness connect.

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  26. I especially love the second video! I think its so amazing that a certain sentence, phrase, etc. can be put into other words and have a much greater impact than the original. I think that when something makes you put yourself in another person's shoes, you take more away from it, because now its personal. One aspect of the video that really caught my attention was the fact that a total stranger would do something so bold for an outcast. I really admire that.

    The farthest back I can remember ever associating with language was when I learned to write my name. I recall sitting at a small coffee table in our old house and writing my name across the blank piece of paper and having that awesome feeling of accomplishment. But I have definitely experienced the power of words in my life before.

    These videos show a positive result of words. However, we must not get into the mind set that "if a word is powerful, it must always be good".

    When I was about 12 or 13, I was standing in a parking lot, waiting for my dad, watching a group of teenagers, about my age, interact with each other. I was kind of staring/zoning out (which I tend to do), when one of the girls in the group made some rude comments towards me. I guess because I was looking at them. That was pretty much the first time I had ever been insulted like that. It may sound like it wasn't that big of a deal, but it was to me. It hurt so much. Just because she said what she said caused me to feel insecure and I was actually afraid of them. I was afraid to see them again, because I didn't want to be hurt like that.

    I don't think I will ever forget that. I have long since gotten over it, but the memory still remains. Words can really leave a wound. But, they can definitely heal too. I went to my parents and talked to them about the whole situation and their words(which were truth) helped. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that the power of words can be used in a positive or negative way. But, words are powerful regardless. Good or bad, they leave an impact.




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    1. I love your post. I love how you said that the event when you were 12 or 13 was a big deal to you. Words ARE a big deal--no matter what others may say about them having no power to hurt you (sticks and stones). Furthermore, whether someone else believes it was a big deal or not, it was meaningful to you, and it left a scar (healed, but still remembered). Love your last sentence. So true. Thanks for sharing that personal story!

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  27. he written language is truly beautiful, inspiring, and powerful. I think about how language as evolved over time and how we are still trying to express the same things, they are just worded differently. Depending on how they are worded or maybe even pronounced, gives the listener a insight to the speaker. It's amazing what a few simple words can give away and what a few simple words can change.

    I am what I like to call an "observer". I like to sit and watch people interact...that sounded better in my head. I love to see people communicate, and not just verbally. People communicate through body language, facial expressions, and things such as letters. I love to see that. I saw this in the first video. Personally, if someone writes me a letter, I am going to be more emotionally effected that any other form of communication.
    If you know me and my family you know we are about as affectionate as robots. We aren't awkward, but we just don't say I love you and all that affectionate stuff. I can tell you all the times my Dad has been affectionate have hit me most through letter, or even a text. He wrote me a letter and I was given it in church. He told me how proud he was, and listed all the talents I had. I had never realized how powerful word were till then. I was sitting here trying not to cry over a piece of paper. Another time I was at home sick, and out of the blue my Dad sent me a text message and it read "You mean the world to me".
    My point is, words are they strongest thing in the world in my opinion. Not only words but communication. No matter how our language has evolved they still haven't lost there affect. It's incredible to me to see people with there own "lingo" and there own little way of interacting. That is powerful. So I have to bring in a quote from doctor who that has been on my mind this whole time. “Doctor Who: You want weapons? We're in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world. This room's the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself!". I absolutely love this. I think that summed up my point pretty well.

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    1. Your post made me tear up! What a lovely gift your father has given you through his words. Maybe the fact that you are not an affectionate family made his words more meaningful when he gave them to you.
      Totally agree on letters. I have a box in my closet of letters and notes I have received from middle school on from family, friends, and crushes. Every once in awhile, I will take the box down and read a few. You know what? All these years later, I still have strong reactions to the words on the page. It's as if no time has past. The Dr. Who quote is great, too! :)

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  28. I am going to be 100% honest, (aren't I always?) I found the videos cheesy. Not in a bad way. They sent a very good message about communication, and Words, and simple changes, but the fact that they were so cheesy, created a barrier for me to truly be able to relate and get heartfelt about them.

    Stating this, I will also say, I did enjoy them. And I enjoyed what the first one brought to the table in the sense that, even though they were physically talking, it showed you don't always need to do that, sometimes writing a note, or a text, is the way to go. I believe silence can either mean that 2 people feel completely comfortable with each other, or the opposite. In the first video it definitely portrayed the first one. Silence can be comfortable, and sometimes, a whole lot less powerful. Which, sometimes makes it easier. I can send a "risky" text, but I also have the option of pretending it was the wrong person, or you asked for a friend, or whatever else you could come up with. It makes everything far less powerful, which, in my case, can be a very good thing.

    As it has been stated many times, words are powerful. In the blink of an eye, a word can cause the world to come crashing down.

    I've been through words. I have heard the worst horrible things, escape simply from somebodies lips. What words can hold your perception of lost love, can hold another as completely different. Every word is so different, and up to interpretation, we really are lucky anything ever gets done here.

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  29. I feel those videos are very sweet and very emotional but from my experience they are also a little unrealistic to modern times. (Or at least the reality I live in.)
    The thing that touched me the most was YOUR story. A teacher coming to you and telling you, you can write. Something like that I feel has the most empowerment than anything.
    I remember during a horseback riding show a world champion trainer approached me and said "You're good." Two words. That's all she said. She didn't ask for my name, she didn't say anything else, that was the end of our conversation but I was walking on air.
    It's not always the words that are said, in my opinion, but it's who says them. Sometimes hearing from someone who you wish to be two words of encouragement is all you need. The same thing can work in the opposite direction though. If she went to me and said "You need lessons." I would've been crushed. That would've hurt more than anything else.
    Going back to the videos, I think also unexpected words can also make a powerful emotion. A compliment or even an insult from someone you didn't expect it can also dramatically effect your day. A common trend recently has been 'Human Kindness'. You see it a lot on commercials and on social media. I think simply going to someone and saying "Hi. You look beautiful today." can change someone's day dramatically. It's a trend I hope stays around for awhile, everyone needs to be a little bit kinder.

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    1. Isn't that amazing? Two words changed your whole day! Words can empower or disarm someone's confidence. I hope that kindness trend lasts, too!

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  30. Both of the videos show just how powerful words can be. For example, the girl in the first video is deaf and feels the emotion of words through a note given by a man next to her. In the second video, a man that is blind(which by the way must have great handwriting as seeing he can write perfectly on a sign) is passed up by people when his sign reads "I'm Blind Please Help". But when a woman comes and changes the words to make them more emotional it allows more people to feel bad for him and give him money. It doesn't matter if you are blind, deaf, three years old, or just a shy student in the back of an English classroom, words hold power, and that power can change your life. Take a look at Kevin Durant for example, he is arguably one of the best basketball players in the world, but in high-school he was picked on and teased for being taller than everyone else. If it wasn't for the four words from his first basketball coach, Charles Craig, "I believe in you", Kevin Durant would not be in the NBA right now. Craig later is killed in a gunfight at the age of 35, and to this day Durant wears the number 35 on all of his jerseys to honor the reason why he is where he is today. For me, I have had words that have motivated me, and words that have devastated me. Words of healing and words of harm. But no matter what someone may say to me I think of those four words Charles Craig said to Kevin Durant, "I believe in you". Those four words hold a lot of meaning to me. Words can crush and create dreams, use your words wisely.

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    1. I had never heard that story about Kevin Durant! (he is my son Noah's hero) WOW. That is a great illustration of how words impacted and changed someone's life!

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  31. I'm not sure how to feel about the videos, but I definitely love your story. People that come in and out of our lives, especially teachers, have a huge impact on us. The things that they say, whether it be good or bad, are extremely influential on us. About the videos though, I feel the same as Katryna, I find them pretty unrealistic, although they are great examples of how words effect people. The blind man couldn't see the beautiful day, and people felt bad so they gave him money. The girl never had a song, merely silence, and the man still found her beautiful. It's hard to find people who would do things as simple as writing a beautiful line on a piece of cardboard for a blind man, but the woman did it, and she may changed the way that everyone saw him. People should use words for good instead of bad more often, they have a bigger impact on us than they may think. "Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out."

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    1. Thanks, Hayley. :) Yes...even though today I get to play the role of teacher, I certainly remember the impact my teachers had on me...I am happy to say, it was mostly in a good way. I got lucky with teachers, I guess!
      I realize that in this crazy world, a video where people stop to SEE us really seems foreign, but wow, what a difference it makes. Maybe the video is realistic in that it shows us that that is what we all really long for: connections. The fact that someone wrote these videos tells us other people want and wish for this, too. Maybe they will inspire others to take that "unrealistic effort." ;)

      I have always been a romantic in my philosophy. I realize what we are as a society, but I also realize what we were MEANT to be, too. I will always keep searching for those "meant to be" moments and celebrate them! I am too old to change, I guess.

      Love your last quote. Awesome advice!

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  32. (Internet connection is a pain. I've tried to repost this response at least three times.)

    Words are more than just phonetic entities spoken out loud to convey a message, or a cluster of letters to form a word in the middle of a written sentence. They can be powerful, if paired correctly they can leave a lasting impression. To this day, the most powerful thing I have ever read was a love poem that was written for me my freshman year by a person I no longer keep contact with (whether it is unfortunate or not is to be decided at a later date — but I digress). Basically, he never told me things about myself that I couldn't accept in this poem — but be acknowledged all my flaws and the personal (negative) thoughts I had about myself and twisted them in a way that made me self-aware, more perceptive of the way I view myself. It was beautiful, lasting; to be quite honest, I even saved the poem itself and I've had it ever since. While my feelings on the person who wrote it are very different from what they were two years ago, the words themselves never lost their meaning or their hold on me, due to their significance. Had the same messages been worded differently, I probably wouldn't even remember each stanza, word for word.

    These videos are very — they're on-point, for lack of a better description and they portray the power of words very well. The same sentence can have different meanings when the words are rearranged; perhaps this is due to emphasis being placed in different areas, or maybe different synonyms are used — each word having its own particular meaning, even if it is considered to be related to other sets of words. It can have a negative effect or a positive one, it could be informal or formal to the highest degree. It's open to the interpretation of anyone who cares enough to listen.

    Some things have the potential of leaving an impression on the audience or the leader, if portrayed in a way that can connect to the intended listener. Words can elicit sorrow, they can elicit anger, they can even bring out the joy lingering beneath every soft heart. It all really depends on how something is put together, because perspective is key.

    Thank you so much for sharing those videos, they really were interesting to watch. I've been moved by words several times and I only hope I continue to have the pleasure of experiencing the phenomenon associated with them.

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  33. You are so articulate, and may I say, you also have a gift for putting words together in a beautiful way. I so loved reading your post, and appreciate your sharing how much the words in that poem you received meant to you.

    Super glad you joined honors English. :) I loved the videos, too. I have seen the sign video many times over several years, and it still has a hold on me.

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  34. I agree with you, Mrs. Caraway, I think that words can change us for the worst or better. As for the first video, I changed my perspective multiple times. At first I thought this was going to tell us about the dangers of the technology in our lives, and how it can provide a disconnect with other people. This was proven wrong when you discover later on in the video that the girl is actually deaf. She can not communicate with words, “orally”. However, she is still capable of communicating with the other male in the video through passing notes, and sign language. When you finally discover that in end of the video that she is deaf, and can not speak, and that’s why she was passing notes with him and being a bit shy, you realize that words are not always available to everyone, and to think that they have to find a new way to communicate their feelings, is a sad thing.
    During the second video you see an old man, in rags, and he is sitting on a flat of cardboard. A few people are passing by him and tossing a few coins randomly onto his mat as if it were a second thought. Then, you see a woman with oversized cat eye sunglasses, and I automatically pre-judged her and thought that she was going to ignore him or something like that. Instead she took the man’s poster that read, “I’m Blind Please Help” and wrote a message on the other side then left. Suddenly, you find that more people begin to drop more and more coins, to the man. An even larger amount then the begin. The woman returns and the man asks her what she wrote on his sign. It reads “It’s A Beautiful Day and I Can’t See It!”
    This completely changes the perspective of how see blind and how you may take something as “simple” as vision for granted. The ability to see is hardly something we have to strive for, some of us are blessed to be born with this natural ability, and we need to be more grateful for things we are born with. Never mind our senses, just our gifts and natural abilities in general, because in some way, shape or form, we will be able to better our community with what we can do.

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