“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou
Words are our most powerful weapon. With words, we can build up and strengthen; we can tear down and destroy. This is not a new idea. But it is, perhaps, an idea overlooked. How often do we actually speak with intention? How much do our words represent the goodness of our souls, rather than our fleeting emotions? What are we giving back when we open our mouths or put pen to paper? In a digital age where smart phones have overtaken the cultural landscape and shifted our perception of communication, we ask ourselves: How can this be a positive thing? It certainly isn’t going away. So what can we do to ensure healthy, meaningful connections are formed in light of this change? We don’t fight it. We use it.
We use it to share a Tweet that, in just 140 characters, brings encouragement to someone in the form of a joke, a good news article, or an uplifting blog post. We use it to send smiling photos and heart emojis and Snapchats with our best friends singing our favorite songs. We use it to tell others that they are valuable just the way they are…and they haven’t been forgotten. We become fierce with our love and our words. We just do it differently these days.
Maya Angelou understood the power of words. As a world-renowned poet, author, civil-rights activist, and former U.S. Poet Laureate, she used them to transcend the division we create amongst ourselves and bring about an awareness of shared values and beliefs. She once declared, “By demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends”. We’re all people. The deaf, the blind, the hearing, the disabled, the black, the white, the heartbroken, the optimist, the thinker, the feeler. Each of us is evidence of something greater, handcrafted to represent one part of a whole body. So there is inherent value in our differences because they all work together. Or at least they can if we let them.
Angelou leaves behind a legacy of advocacy through words. And while she certainly fought for equality and justice in other ways, her greatest gift was sharing the simple truth that we are all equipped with a powerful weapon.
And it’s up to us how we want to use it.