Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Power of Words

Words can be powerful. Word can bring people together or create tension. Words often lead to misunderstandings and assumptions. Some people throw words around like fireballs and are firestarters. Some people respect the power of words. Some peolpe use words to make differences in the lives of others.

The reason I'm bringing this up is after 2 specific incidences that came to mind recently. I realized that people's interpretations of particular words can make or break whatever relationship exists between 2 people. Also, some people hold on to words for so long and hold grudges or just do not forget. When someone recently called me "Bubba" few times, I decided to talk about it instead of letting it become a grudge. I sought to understand where the person was coming from and how he defined that word. I came to understand different views of "Bubba" and how offensive or affectionate that word could be. It turned out that the person who called me "Bubba" was being affectionate after all. Instead of taking offense according to my preconceived construction of what "Bubba" meant, I chose to find out what it meant to him. And, it turned out to be a postive construction for that person. So, it became positive for me after all.

Another incidence that came to mind was when I attended a lunch with my Project Liberty coworkers before the program ended. We were asked to go around and say a word that described each person. For one coworker, I had a specific word in mind. When my turn came, that word disappeared from my mind. I froze. The first thing that came to my mind was "bubbilicious." I was already ready to hit myself for choosing a word that ended with "licious" in the first place, especially as soon as I saw the look on that person's face. It was like a knife in my heart when I saw how offended she was by that word. I realized that she probably had a negative connotation or history with that word, bubbilicious. It was the last thing I wanted to do, especially when the definition I had for "bubbilicious" was actually complimentary and positive. I immediately felt so uncomfortable that I froze even further and struggled to clarify what I meant. I knew that it was probably it with her and that she probably wouldn't forgive me for my choice of word. To me, bubbilicious was positive and meant someone who was so full of energy and positivity, always on the go, celebrated everything with heart and passion, and was life-loving. In no way did I mean someone airheaded or anything (which is what someone later told me that she probably viewed it as). To this day, it bothers me. And, I wish that I had the chance to clarify what I meant because she probably still has that misconception and still takes offense to that. She even mentioned it in her blog a while ago. I have a lot of respect for this person's outlook on life, her faith in God, courage with things that come up in life, humanity, and love. Her supervisor was right when she said that this person was "love." She's full of love for life, God, people, the children she works with, and everything else. I have a lot of respect for her. I hope that she finds a place in her heart one day to forgive me for the preconceived constructin of the word I used to describe her over a year ago.