Comic legend Lenny Bruce was arrested no less than four times for using The Words on stage. He was harassed for years, followed by police wherever he performed and in 1964 was finally convicted of “obscenity,” narrowly escaping his four month sentence by dying before it could be carried out. Wiley criminal.
George Carlin catapulted his career by injecting the shock value of The Words into his act. In the early 1970s, pre-adolescent children all over the country would huddle around their record players with the volume turned way down and their parents’ swiped copy of Class Clown, giggling like demons as Carlin spouted off the 7 Words You Can Never Say on Television:
cocksucker, cunt, fuck, motherfucker, piss, shit, tits
These words did not liked to be laughed at back then. They represented something(s) which terrified people. They elicited such intense emotional responses people could be sentenced to prison just for uttering them aloud.
Words have power. And while today we might find those reactions of the authorities 50 years ago to be downright silly, these stories illustrate the magnitude of that power.
Consider words which represent actions or principles leading to the lowest expression of human behavior, violence:
war, hate, greed, intolerance, god
And others which represent actions or principles of the highest expression of human behavior, enlightenment:
peace, compassion, charity, service, god
God is perhaps the single most interesting word in the English language for the sheer power it conjures in people’s consciousness. It becomes even more interesting when we look at its Indo-European root ghut meaning “that which is invoked.”
Whether invoking violence and intolerance or peace and enlightenment, the word god appears far more powerful and potentially threatening to the fabric of any society than cocksucker, cunt, fuck, motherfucker, piss, shit or tits could ever hope to be. Clearly this word is to be feared above all others.
Until we take the time to understand the word.
Invoke implies we are active participants in the creation or existence of god. Realize the magic here which has been so sorely lost over time: by definition, we get to choose what god is to us in our own lives. We can decide to call into being a god who is specifically aligned with our individual values and spiritual needs.
I wonder how much the subtle addition of invocation to the way in which we define god would alleviate the My God is Better Than Your God epidemic plaguing mankind for so long.
Using this logic, if you’ll join me, I invite you to begin to uncover which words have a deep impact on you…which words do you feel in your gut? your throat? your heart? your loins? (Yes, I said loins.) What are those feelings like? tingly? choking? nauseous? heavy? light?
Then begin to tear those words down, peel away their layers and get to a more intimate level with them.
In doing this we begin to not only gain a deeper understanding of words, we also learn to respect them more and use them more carefully…or carelessly, whichever the situation requires.
Wanna play? Leave a word which holds strong feelings for you in the comments section and we’ll see what we can come up with together.