Words and Their Influence: Be Aware


The effect of a crowd and its message can change history. The words of one person can have mushroom cloud devastation. The people that we surround ourselves and our children with will shape our lives. Like a sweet aroma in a room or bad tuna in the refrigerator, we will not be unaffected.

The softly and gently spoken words of “Hurry my children” rallied 909 people to their deaths. I was 9 years old watching the news with my father as the horror images of Jonestown played on my television.

A religious group led by one man, Jim Jones, came to a tragic end as he convinced them to drink a suicide solution on November 18, 1978. According to members of The Peoples Temple, Jones spoke a message of love and acceptance. He also painted himself to be anything that people needed. He said, “If you want me to be your friend, I will be your friend. If you want me to be your father, I will be your father, and if you want me to be your god, I will be your god.”

The details of the story is a youtube click away. However, my focus in mentioning this event has to do with influence and words. When we combine the power of numbers with those who we trust, we can go along with thoughts, words or actions that may seem so “not us.”

Words are associated with feelings . . . so much so that the same area of the brain deals with physical and emotional pain, according to Psychology Today, April 2012. In other words, what we say can cause real pain. Formulated according to the agenda, the words of one person can spark a nation, change the world, or crush a spirit.

Do we realize the power of our words? Proverbs says that that the power of death and life are in the tongue*. This is evident in the Jim Jones tragedy. Do we feel responsible for what we say to others? Are we aware of how we have affected the lives of those around us?

Those with whom we align ourselves and what we say to others is a domino effect that can rarely ever be undone. We need to be observant and question agendas. We are fallible creatures and thus should not be followed blindly. Our lives impact others. Anyone who thinks that his words or actions do not affect others are sorely mistaken. Wake up. Be aware.

*”The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18: 21)

–David Hethcock, Admissions Officer and Technology Support Specialist