This is a blog about the power of words.
The reason? The loss of someone close to one of our dearest friends. It was with humour and incredible bravery that he stuck two fingers up at Death as it approached. He just didn’t blink. He used words to make people laugh, he used words to let folk know that they should celebrate who he was with him. Pity and sadness were not allowed, especially the former. The latter could, and would, come later as it has now.
As Love Of My Life, LOML, and I discussed this delightful and loved human being it brought to mind the poem that was spoken at the funerals of LOML’s father and mother.
Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
Mary Elizabeth Frye
An example of how beautiful words can be. How moving. How inspiring.
A quick search on Wikipedia provides some background. Mary Elizabeth Fry was an American born in November, 1905 and died September, 2004. The genesis of the poem, written in 1934, was inspired by the story of a young Jewish girl, Margaret Schwarzkopf, who had stayed with the Frye household. She was unable to visit her dying mother in Germany due to anti-Semitic unrest.
Anti-semitic unrest. A horrible phrase, created by an obscene philosophy that pilloried a discrete religious / racial group and, in the end, exterminated in excess of six million of them.
An example of how words can stir up hate.
An example of how words can result in the death of millions.
You will have your own examples of these promoters of hate and populist manipulation. They tweet, they (mis-)use Facebook, (that dreadful, irresponsible publisher with no moral compass at all), they lie in the press and on television. Without any sense of guilt or responsibility.
And yet, and yet, we know that words can inspire and bring people together. So, let’s use words that counter the hate and vilification espoused by others; let’s use words that create laughter; let’s use words that move us to a higher level of our humanity.
Just like the man I have written about at the beginning of this blog.
J J Mitchell
‘No one left behind’