Words Matter

Our words cast spells.

They change the world, because they change us.

If you doubt me, then you probably don’t believe in prayer. Many people don’t. In fact, a child of the 60s who was raised by atheists, I didn’t either until I realized that “prayer” is just another term for “words matter.”

Whether it is a mantra, a prayer, an affirmation, a dark-of-night wish uttered with a full heart, or just the words “I love you” spoken again and again to your beloved people—the utterance of words is powerful. Either aloud or in the silence of your mind.

Throughout history priests, imams, and rabbis have urged their followers to “pray together” to right a wrong or heal a hurt. Foolishness? I don’t think so. Maybe it didn’t work the way they expected it to—via the intercession of a supreme omnipotent being. But those hopeful, fervent prayers equate to energy, belief, and thought. Our thoughts and beliefs create our actions—we cannot think and believe “hate” and act from a place of love. We cannot think and believe “I’m worthless” and act from a place of optimism and confidence. We cannot think and believe “I’m a victim” and behave any differently than as a victim.

Chanting, meditating, journeying, manifesting, affirming, singing (I swear gospel singers can change the world), even drumming, whatever you do or whatever you call it, it is (in the terminology of the Western/Judeo-Christian paradigm, forgive me) a kind of prayer.

Fear is an inverted prayer. Fear consumes our minds. Our bodies even. It takes root. Without meaning to, we perseverate on all the thoughts and beliefs darkly birthed by fear. They become unintentional prayers to manifest the worst that can happen.

Do we want that? No! Of course not. So how do we feel fear and also act to defeat it?

Well it sure is hard and I’m no expert. I’m not going to glibly state that “all you have to do is…” and then lay some platitudes on you. But understanding how it works has helped me a lot. Internalizing that knowing has helped my body react to its own fear by overlaying images of light beings flooded with love on top of fear’s dark thunderheads. It actually works for me, I’m happy to say. Well, most of the time. A pandemic and an authoritarian commander-in- chief would challenge Buddha himself. (Okay, maybe not, but all us regular folks for sure.)

What made me want to write this blog is thinking about the 2020 election. As I write this, Biden/Harris have won the majority of electoral votes. Depending on when you read this, who knows what you will know about the outcome of it all. Still, I am optimistic for the future and flooded with relief. Oh, and ready to keep on working.

If there is one thing the Trump presidency has taught us it is that words matter. They have power to destroy and incite. They also have the ability to heal and soothe, but we’ve seen precious little of that for the last four years.

I’ve noticed people casually lying lately. Blatant, but casual, while I sit and listen and know the truth. I imagine it has become normalized for so many who realize lying of all kinds can be used to one’s advantage, as evidenced by the man in the White House.

The president’s lies and his vile, hate-steeped language have both altered reality. His platform is so prominent, and his voice so amplified by his power, it didn’t take long at all for him to get inside our heads. Think of all the actions that have resulted from his words.

The activism and resistance of millions of progressive citizens. People never before activated in this way—well they are now. A reaction in opposition to the ugliness because we all believe we can create change. We say it, believe it, act accordingly.

And on the other side—the open hostility, violence, and rage of haters and bigots. I’m not naïve enough to think Trump created those people. They were there all along. But his words empowered them. Big time.

Trump and his enablers have cast a spell on this nation. I do not know exactly how we will reverse it, but I know we can.

Love is, ultimately, the most powerful force in the universe. I try every day to let my thoughts and words be those of hope, action, tolerance, justice, optimism, courage, and love. Sometimes I get scared and then it’s hard.

A battle for the soul of our country requires that we cast our spells with every word and thought.

Speak up when we witness cruelty, injustice, or bigotry. Speak silent prayers inside our own hearts about what we intend for ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors, and all humanity. Don’t shortchange all of humanity. I mean, words matter.

Let’s use that power for good.