Words are powerful weapons. Words are lethal. Words can kill. On those many occasions when I displeased my parents as I was growing up, a paddling was short-lived, but those tongue-lashings were designed to rip my heart out. “How could you worry your mother like that?  What were you thinking about? Don’t you have any pride?”

Many issues have grown so complex in our society that we try to manage them by reducing them to a single word or phrase. We then attempt to pigeonhole people by putting one of those preconceived labels on them. We know that this is wrong and that we are committing an injustice against that person, but that doesn’t seem to stop us.

All of us know that words are continuously coming in or falling out of favor. People who must face the public regularly live in constant dread of using the inappropriate word. Today words must be politically correct. Words are powerful. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” “I have a dream.”

Who among us has not been trapped or embarrassed by our own words? Remember the dramatic impact of those words, “Mission accomplished,” when they were first uttered?  Those words were not used by President Obama when he addressed the nation to announce the end of American troops fighting in Iraq. Those two words became devastating words to the former administration.

We were driving home from church one Sunday when our children were still in elementary school. “Daddy,” Michael began, “Let’s eat out.”

“Michael,” I began. “We just ate out yesterday. We can’t eat out every day.”

“We can if we try,” he exclaimed. I heard my own words coming back at me. Not a comfortable feeling. “But you said,” is always a powerful and difficult statement to defend against.

In spite of all the problems inherit in choosing just the right word or perhaps more accurately avoiding the taboo word, words are wonderful things. Words delight the soul, warm the heart and fire the imagination.  Think about how much time and care we put into choosing just the right names for our children. We want the names to be exactly right. The results are worth the efforts we make. We will reap great dividends if we take the same care in choosing the words we use in our conversations and public appearances.