There’s a famous proverb which says that actions speak louder than words. It’s one of the most common English sayings, heralded as common sense and found in countless places, from motivational quotes to relationship books. But is it really true? As religious Jews, can we claim that actions speak louder than words, when it was through words- those of G-d- that the world came into being?
Just as G-d created the world ex nihilo through His speech, our speech has the power to create amazing things. We can share knowledge, we can instill confidence, we can make someone’s day. But we can also destroy with words. We can ruin lives, break up relationships, and crush one’s self-esteem. Like any tool, speech needs to be used carefully. It has immense potential to do good, but also the power to cause irreparable damage.
The power of our words can last a lifetime. Unlike physical scars which fade, the scars of painful words remain in our hearts and minds and stop us from achieving things which are actually in our reach. In all likelihood, your actions to this day are affected by those around you. Your perception of yourself, your talents, even the lifestyle you choose; these are all the result of not only your own strengths and weaknesses but of those imparted upon you by those around you.
Next time we open our mouths to speak, let’s remember this. Let’s remember the power we have to do good with our words, and the responsibility we have not to hurt others. When we realise this, we can help others in ways we thought unimaginable, and we can build bridges rather than burning one. Let us resolve now to try and speak only words of positivity, and help others through the gift of speech.
This article is a part of the Green Speech Campaign