Mandela on Words

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It is never my custom to use words lightly. If twenty-seven years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die.”

– Nelson Mandela

I suppose I’m just jumping on the bandwagon here, quoting Mandela now that he’s dead. I wasn’t planning on it. But then I read this post via Freshly Pressed, and the quote at the end stuck with me. I realized I wanted to share it, because the sentiment is so, so important to writers, to people who wrestle with words daily. It is so, so important to activists — lest we get caught in the trap of thinking that talking about things isn’t important enough.

Which, of course, is something I hear very often. My blogging isn’t good enough if I’m not marching and protesting every day. (Excuse me while I roll my eyes right out of my head.)

Words are important. Words make a very real difference in life, and in death. It is the spreading of hate via words that leads to people dying; it is the spreading of love via words that saves lives, that makes lives worth living.

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

 Cornel West

Remember these things. Remember how powerful your words are, and remember to speak from a place of love, that you may help bring justice to the world.

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