In Sweet Company

In Sweet Company

Words Are Like Buletts, II

“The only way to restore harmony is to act with wisdom, integrity, stability and dignity.” — Grandmother Twylah Nitsch, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE

January 14 th, soon after the shooting in Arizona, i published a blog that bears clarification. I wrote, “I once heard it said that ‘words are like bullets,’ and though this metaphor was intended to impress on us the idea that what we say has the power to wound others, in this instance, the analogy is more than an apt turn of the phrase.” My statement drew some objection: One reader said “Words are like bullets only if we take them into our heart.” Another reader said, “Words can be used irresponsibly and can hurt …. but bullets tear through flesh and damage and destroy lives …”


As a writer, i have always felt — first and deeply — that words are my friends, my “medium of choice” to clarify my  thinking, bring my thoughts into manifestation, and help myself and others heal. I once read a story about a Hassidic rabbi who saw God in all things, so much so that during a time of great peril, reciting the first three letters of the Hebrew alphabet lifted him into the presence of God and saved him from certain death. Thinking one day about the verse “… and the word was with God and the Word was God” helped me to understand writing as a way to keep company with the God of my heart.

Perhaps I should have mentioned all this in my previous blog, as it is not my intention to convey that all words are like bullets or that we each must not exercise discrimination as to what we take in. Some words hurt and wound; and sometimes those words stay with us for years no matter how hard we try to disregard them. Those words damage and destroy lives as surely as any bullet.


We do have a choice about what we say, how we say it, and what we take in. Because our words reflect our consciousness, what we say conveys how we perceive the world and what we set in motion. The poet Hafiz refers to this choice as a “divine invitation” in his poem of the same name, an opportunity, an appeal, to see God in everything:

You have been invited to meet
The Friend.
No one can resist a Divine Invitation.
That narrows down all our choices
To just two:
We can come to God
Dressed for Dancing,
Be carried on a stretcher
To God’s Ward.

Your thoughts?

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posted January 29, 2011 at 10:49 am

I love Hafiz – now he knows how to use words that can change our consciousness and set in motion a whole new way of thinking. Your last paragraph is perceptive, i.e., words reflect our conciousness, which go out into the world and set that consciousness in motion. I am currently reading Dr. Amit Goswami’s book Quantim Activism Can Save Civilization, linking quantim physics with the conciousness of Unity, with God, getting away from the materialistic view of the world.
In my novel, The Quest, I refer to this notion of higher consciousness as my characters search for the meaning of life. In meditation they strive to calm the body and mind and simply ‘be’ for a while. Then they are better able to ‘do’ in a mindful way. Margaret Guthrie

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Kay Lindahl

posted January 29, 2011 at 2:17 pm

The power of words – your blog reminds me of a couple things. First the work of George Lakoff and the impact of how we frame things, how the words we use influences the tenor of the conversation and how our brains process language as well s the emotional content. Secondly a quote for Joseph Jaworsky: We don’t describe the world we see, we see the world we describe.

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