Your Words Still Matter

A little more than six years ago, the second post I wrote for this blog came after a mass shooting that targeted a congresswoman, Gabby Giffords. Six people died in that attack, and Giffords suffered serious brain damage.

Today, a man in Alexandria, Virginia, opened fire on a group of congressmen and congresswomen who were practicing for a softball game. One congressman was seriously wounded, and six other people were injured. The gunman was killed.

Much has changed in the last six years; two presidential elections have been held and the political landscape has changed radically. But the rhetoric and bile has only escalated. And I feel that what I wrote in 2011 is, unfortunately, still too true today, so I think it’s worth revisiting tonight.

Your Words Matter

Your Words Matter: I chose this phrase for my home page of this website because I thought it conveyed the essence of my work. At the time, I was thinking about finding just the right words for books and articles, ads and brochures, resumes and application letters.

But today I keep thinking about that phrase–your words matter–and how it applies to the brutal murders that took place in Tuscon, Arizona, yesterday. Six people dead, a congresswoman critically injured, a dozen directly wounded by the gunfire, countless others wounded indirectly.

It’s true that there is no way to draw a straight line from recent political debates to the man who pulled the trigger. But there is also no way to ignore the influence of the blistering insults and hyperbolic accusations that have dominated public discussion of government issues in the past few years.

Your words matter. Is there a difference between “an opponent” and “an enemy”? Between “focusing on” a race and “targeting” a candidate? Between “defeating” and “eliminating”? Although dictionary definitions of such terms may be similar, the words definitely differ in emotional currency.

It seems clear that the suspect in these shootings was mentally unstable, that words held different meanings for him than they did for most people. And that is why I am so disturbed when hateful words with violent shadings are tossed around indiscriminately and repeatedly in public discourse. Although most listeners can discern the difference between hyperbole and a call to action, some can not. Speakers and writers must take responsibility for their words, choosing them carefully so that they can spark an idea without sparking an out-of-control wildfire.

Spraying incendiary words through the airwaves or across the Internet can be as dangerous as firing a Glock into a crowd at a supermarket. You never know who you might hit or what damage you could do.

Your words matter.

June 14, 2017

Blog Categories


Need help with your article or advertisement? Want someone to give your book a final look? Drop us a line or give us a call—we’d love to have a word with you.


Personally, I feel the editing process is the most important aspect of writing–it can be a nightmare if the editor and the writer are not on the same page. … Tammy knows what she is doing, she is easy… Read more
Phil Ward, Author, Raiding Forces Series

You May Also Like…

Lifelong Impact

I don't think there are many people outside my family who made a bigger impact on my life than Charlie Marler, who...

Two Decades of Remembering

I’ve been watching lots of 9/11 documentaries in the past few weeks, and the images are still searing, even 20 years...