In recent events, there was a train accident in New Jersey, where many people were hurt and one was killed. The tragedy was broadcasted on the news within seconds and it didn't take long for it to go viral of course; in less than an hour most people knew what was happening. One news station ran the headline "Just One Killed." That struck a cord within me -- how belittling to the family of that victim that headline was and how the words he used had such a negative connotation. That got me to ponder on how much power our words have on people, a power that can easily persuade a million viewers to think of an event in a certain light. Like instead of seeing a tragedy, we see something good since "just" one person died, even though one death is still a tragedy and still very much so matters to many people.
Somehow with that little word, we have belittled the meaning of someone who played such an important role in someone's life. So no, it wasn't just one death -- it was a person with a name, a face and a story. She was a mother who was dropping off her young daughter at daycare, then she caught the train, the last train she would ever catch. She had just moved from Brazil and was starting a new life in America. There were many people, like her family and friends, who think of her death as the most terrible tragedy they've ever experienced -- not just one death. So we cannot simply belittle the death of her, because her life isn't a victory to celebrate because just one person died. No it wasn't just one person at all. She was so much more. She was a mom, a daughter, a wife and she mattered. So should her death and so should the way we talk about her tragedy.
This is just one example among many of how impactful the words we use can be. Words can persuade, belittle, justify, insult, compliment and change people in so many ways. We walk around every day, spitting them out of our mouths without a second thought. These words are important though, because despite the childish rhyme "sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me," words do hurt and serve a great purpose in our society. Words like the ones in Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech changed millions of African American lives in terms of equality. President's words, media's words, even your own words impact so many people around you.
So I challenge you to think about just how impactful your words are and your voice is. Take that into thought when you say things, do things and communicate. Also, think about how you can help change people and the world with just your words -- that you can change how people think by what you think by just expressing your thoughts into words.