Words’ Worth (an ode to words)

(‘Words’ Worth’ is a fortnightly column written for the Solid Stuff Creative facebook page)

Hunter S. Thompson is believed to have said “Anything worth doing, is worth doing right”.

At Solid Stuff  Creative we say pretty much the same: “If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”… This includes words. Doing words.

Granted, it’s a known fact that you get much further and ‘say’ much more with body language. Id est  without using words. In fact Francis of Assisi supposedly said “Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words”.

However, there is something powerful and almost mystical about words that leaves me awe-stricken. They are a miracle of life! And I challenge you to disagree.

Another thoroughly worn string of word pearls is the one that presumably originally went like this: “Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword”. Edward George Bulwer Lytton (1803-1873), an English novelist, wrote this for the first time in 1839. Is it not self-explanatory? Can you touch and change hearts, minds and attitudes with the sword?

With bullets?

With foolish power play?

With force?

While in South Africa we are currently not blessed with a ruler or governing party that is prolific with words of encouragement or greatness, we hold dear the mind-boggling unprecedented achievement of two former leaders – one white, one black – who simultaneously and jointly proved to the entire globe that greatness certainly does not call for a single shot to be fired or sword to be drawn. With this tour de force they captivated the entire world, capturing more hearts and minds than a combination of Napoleons, Caesars, Hannibals, Chakas, Nelsons, Osama bin Ladens, Dayans and the likes. Together they brought home the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 – “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa”.

Their instruments, their tools were words. Their vehicle communication. Spine-chilling. Breathtaking. Show-stopping. This country and its continent would never be the same again.

Not a drop of blood was wasted in reaching a goal that had appeared to become exceedingly remote and despairingly distant. Their legacy is more precious than words. Yet gratifyingly it has been, is being and will be perpetuated and immortalized in images and words. Most importantly words. For posterity.

Former South African president Paul Kruger (late 1800’s) – one of its most colourful and charismatic – once said: “Take from the past what is good, clean and noble and build thereupon the future.”

Words. Precious and valuable.

I rest my case.


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