What are Words For?


“Talk is cheap. Words are plentiful. Deeds are precious.” — H. Ross Perot

“He who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak” Laozi from the Tao Te Ching

I have been listening recently to some old classic songs and one of them has glued itself to my mind – “Words” by Missing Persons.

They sing the lyrics:

“What are words for when no one listens anymore
What are words for when no one listens
What are words for when no one listens it’s no use talkin at all
Do you hear me
Do you care
Do you hear me
Do you care
Tell me what are words for”
I have spent a good amount of time the last 5-6 years  by myself in public places which has afforded me the opportunity to listen to all the conversations going on around me. I did not necessarily want to hear them but unable to shut out all the noise close to me. I stayed at a hotel a few weeks ago and watched a table of three sisters at breakfast. One of them seemed to do all the talking and one looked to be bored listening while the other one seemed to be listening out of courtesy. Or I have camped next to a family of five that spoke horribly to each other and ruined their camping trip as they yelled at each other. We live in a world of constant information, technology, education, and media types of all formats which all leads to – SENSELESS, SELF-SERVING WORDS. Facts have become something that is no longer relevant while the media, politicians, and religion throw out all types of scare tactics lined with falsehoods. Using words for fear-mongering, hate, and self-serving expediency has become the norm.
Marital relationships are on the decline and as I read the top reasons for marriage failure almost all them can be attributed to their communication patterns and inability to communicate effectively. In a lot of cases it points to the inability to stop, think through what they are going to say, and come back with what is necessary, respectful, and effective. In my life I have been one in the past to “fly off at the cuff” when it comes to my emotions while constantly reacting to the people around me. Believe me from experience, this is not a effective way for dealing with the world and people in it. It has caused me a lot of confusion, angst, and relational issues. In my job as a sales manager, I spend a great deal of time communicating with my salespeople and clients with emails and speech. I have had a tendency to write or say the first thing on my mind which for me is coming from a place of emotions and not from a place of logic and reason.  I have learned over the years to stop, breath, reread many times, and think through my forthcoming conversations. This way I can normally condense my words, make them more applicable for the situation, and logically, tactfully correspond with those around me.
I believe the best way to be able to correspond with the world around us in a compassionate, effective, and respectful way is to literally unplug from the world for periods of time. It is the ability to be with oneself in silence and solitude to look within for one’s spirit. The Moody Blues has a wonderful song called “The Voice” that says:
“And how many words have I got to say?
And how many times will it be this way?
With your arms around the future and your back up against the past.
You’re already falling it’s calling you on to face the music.
And the song that is coming through.
You’re already falling the one that it’s calling is you.”
How many of us take the time to hear this calling, to look deep within, and know who you truly are. This I believe is the source of deep wisdom and understanding from which springs forth use of words as they were initially meant to be. All the great spiritual leaders of the past spent time in solitude before they met with the masses and afterwards to refresh their emotional, mental, and physical reserves. How can one communicate effectively when they themselves are in turmoil, chaos, and exhausted There is a saying in the 12 steps groups that one has trouble dealing and communicating with the world around them if they are too hungry, Angry, Lonely, and/or Tired – “H.A.L.T.
Political elections and politics in general is the best example of the use of words in a very demeaning, demonizing way. We use to be a nation where words were used for the benefit of all but in the political atmosphere today, words have become so depreciated that they no longer mean anything at all.  Americans stayed glued to  politician’s and media’s every word as if it were all a cardinal fact.  Even words between nations have lost any meaning with pacts and treaties being broken all the time. The United States has become a nation of words that spew hate, separation, and just plain meanness all born a great deal from our current political  atmosphere.
Religion in modern society is long on words and very short of action.  There seems to be a big effort on saving someone else versus genuinely caring for another person in the here and now. Words of fear and manipulation are used ceaselessly by religion to “control” the masses. If anyone doubts this they need to look no further than the Spanish Inquisitions, the Salem Witchcraft, and words spouted by the terrorist communities around the world. Why did people throng to Jesus?  Simply because he was full of compassionate action and short of words. One of the greatest speeches on love was the Sermon on the Mount which was short and very precise followed by a life that mirrored the words he spoke. Jesus had a way of communicating directly and lovingly without a lot of words. He spent a great deal of time healing and feeding the masses around him. Yet the Pharisees and Sadducee’s spent most of their time speaking as well as writing words of condemnation and  back-bending rules. In today churches, we see a massive decline in the United States with church attendance.  Could it be there is a lot of talk and not the actions of compassion that Jesus put forth that actually drew the throngs to him? Could it actually be the duty of mankind not to work on saving another person, which is not even a healthy attribute in a relationship, but simply to love and be there for them?
I would just throw out there notice your conversations this week, the emails you send,  and the speech constantly plowing through your mind. Are they a stream of emotional reactions that cause distress or thought-out communication that projects love and compassion? I believe we must get to the point with our words where we can show  constant love in our speech at work, personal relationships, and strangers we come into contact everyday. It may be a word of comfort or a smile to someone who whose “tank” is empty or just to listen without speaking to someone who is hurting.
I also find that as words become more important and useful to me that I tune-out the communications around me that use them cheaply and without thought. This includes the media, relationships that are toxic, conversations that ramble on and on without any substance. Our life is short and to spend it on numb-minding communication is such a waste. I have never wasted time in nature alone simply listening to the sounds around me and the voice within.
Should we speak with others? Absolutely, but with words that are necessary, respectful, and, compassionate to those we communicate with.
I had the pleasure today to hike at Eisenhower State Park in Texas after a week of turmoil at work and just life itself. It all dissipated as I listened to the wind, the water crashing against the cliffs, and the chatter of the birds. Hopefully you can find the time to spend alone in whatever way refreshes your reserves whether that be a hike in nature, a smooth, relaxing bath, or just enjoying some time in your favorite chair with no outside noise.  
Mindfulness this week is asking us do we actually know what we saying when  speaking words?