Power in Words

What does it mean to be strong. I used to think being strong meant having big muscles, or being tall, or having a loud voice. Now I can see that none of that matters. To have any type of power, you must be able to make sympathizers of others, instill fear in your enemies, and inspire those around you. The key to this strength, this power over the world around you is your voice, or rather how you use it. The words you say, and how you say them, more than anything else, show how powerful you really are.
Imagine you’re an eleven year old boy, just starting a new school. Your science teacher ask you how you would describe the sun. “Hot and i-il-illuminating.” You respond nervously. The teacher turns from the green chalk board and looks at you, “That’s a very good word Lloyd” He says. All the other kids look at you with anger, or admiration. “Th-thank you” you sputter, as you don’t know it yet but you just had your first glimpse at the power of words.
There is something that most, if not all people in a position of power have in common, the way they talk. From the president, to reporters, and even Adolf Hitler, who while undeniably a terrible person, was a great leader, and inspired his people, through the power of his voice. It makes sense when you think about it, someone who speaks well seems educated, and someone who is educated, is the obvious choice for a good leader, because they are expected to be wise, and cautious. You can also come at it from the other side. If someone who could barely say one syllable words, got up on a stage, and asked you to make them leader, what would you?
“Hearing them, I’d grow nervous, my clutching trust in their protection, and power weakened”. This quote from Richard Rodriguez’s “Hunger of Memory” shows the power of language. In this excerpt, Richard is talking about his feeling for his parents, who couldn’t speak much english. The quote is precluded by him talking about his parents trying to stutter through conversations in english, unsure, and uncomfortable. He says that he felt his sense of protection fade when he heard them speak english. That the way they talked reflected their power, and just hearing them struggle with speaking english for a few minutes made him think of them as less powerful. This is an incredible example of the  power of language. The sense of strength forged by time, the relationship between parents and their child, altered completely due to them not being able to speak “powerfully”.
“Miscellaneous items go here” I said proudly. At this point I was fourteen, and I had learned how to use my “power”. My cousins (age 13, and 14) looked at me, flabbergasted. “That’s M-I-S-C-E-L-L-A-N-E-O-U-S” I said proudly. “It means something that doesn’t fit into any other category”. After receiving no response but more dumb looks I said “Categories, are ways that people group things, like by race, color, or country of origin” I said taking the last part from a dictionary. “I know what category means” Dante, the older of the two responded. “And miscellaneous... Why do you have to use such big words anyway. You think you're smarter than us don’t you.” Of course it was true. I had been using language to hold others in submission. This is the biggest pitfall of using the power of language. No one like a show off,and I was definitely being a showoff.
I said that you use strong language to gain sympathizers, and silence enemies. I also mentioned that in fifth grade, when I used illuminating I received looks of admiration and anger. I didn’t know it at the time, but using the power of speech doesn’t just silence enemies, it creates new ones. My enemies were well deserved, for while in the beginning it was innocent, and I meant no harm to anyone, I soon started trying to control people, to lift myself up, and make myself seem better than them. That’s why when my cousin asked me if I thought I was smarter than him I couldn’t reply. I knew it was true, I was being an elitist.
It’s true that the way you talk gives you strength, but it also makes you weak. It makes you weak to the human desire to be better than someone else, by giving you an excuse, by making you think that you have a right to act better than others. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use what you have, but when you use it, make sure you do so responsibly, because being strong is not worth losing your morality.

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